• psst … I’m a Realtor! Thanks for stopping by my website. I would love to help you find your dream home and community in the Hampton Roads or Williamsburg area or to sell your existing home. This website is authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of Hampton Roads and the historic triangle, and his expertise in the local real estate market. His websites, WilliamsburgsRealEstate.com and Mr Williamsburg.com were created as a resource for folks who are exploring a move to Williamsburg, VA , Hampton Roads VA and the surrounding areas of the Virginia Peninsula. On his website you can search homes for sale , foreclosures, 55+ active adult communities, condos and town homes , land and commercial property for sale in Williamsburg, Yorktown, New Kent, Poquoson, and Gloucester, VA as well as surrounding markets of Carrolton, Chesapeake,Gloucester, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth Mathews, Newport News Norfolk, Poquoson, Smithfield, , Suffolk, Surry, Va Beach, Yorktown and York County Virginia You can reach John by email John@MrWilliamsburg.com or phone @ 757-254-813

Virginia-The Oyster Capital of the East Coast

Oysters are celebrated all along Virginia’s Coastal Region including two major annual oyster festivals.

Each November, the lovely town of Urbanna, found on the Rappahannock River, throws the country’s largest and longest-running oyster festival called the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The town’s streets are closed to vehicle traffic and become filled with oyster booths, seafood dishes, music and crafts. The festival highlight is the oyster shucking contest which draws spectators from around the world.

Each November, the lovely town of Urbanna, found on the Rappahannock River, throws the country’s largest and longest-running oyster festival called the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The Official Oyster Festival of the Commonwealth!

Come by BOAT or come by LAND and enjoy everything oyster and more!  The charming Town of Urbanna closes it’s streets for this big celebration of oysters and the heritage that surrounds it.

Over 50 food vendors with of course, OYSTERS!!  Raw, Steamed, Roasted, Rockefeller, Fried, Stewed, but also lots of festival food fare as well.

Unique Arts and Crafts along Community Row takes you the town marina to see historical boats and exhibits on the conservation of the bay, watermen and the oyster industry.

7:00 pm on Friday is the Fireman Parade and 2:00 pm on Saturday is the Oyster Festival Parade, home town fun with the shiners, marching bands, cool cars, beauty queens and floats.

Check out the historic 1766 Old Tobacco Warehouse/Scottish Factor Store museum, learn all about the history of oysters and boats and the Mitchell Map

In the village find the Antique Auto Show, children’s activities and music concerts!

Don’t miss the Oyster Shucking Contest on Saturday behind the Firehouse.  Somebody has to eat those shucked oysters – be in the audience!

Local Virginia Wine Tastings and boutique oyster samples from local Rappahannock River Oysters available for 21 years old and over for $10 on Friday and Saturday.

Admission Fee: Parking Fee $10/Friday and $20/Saturday $2/Water Taxi

Dates/Time:
Friday, November 06, 2015 (10:00 AM-5:00 PM)
Saturday, November 07, 2015 (9:00 AM-5:00 PM)

 

Directions

 

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Other Upcoming Virginia Oyster Festivals

Urbanna – Nov. 6, 7 – Urbanna Oyster Festival

Wachapreague – Nov. 7 – Island House Oyster Roast

Saxis – Nov. 7 – Saxis Island Oyster Roast

Gloucester – Nov. 7 – TOGA Virginia Half-Shell Oyster Tasting

Warsaw – Nov. 8 – Fall Oyster Crawl on the Chesapeake Bay Wine Trail

Suffolk – Nov. 8 – Passion for Paws Picnic, Whiskers Wine Tasting, & Oyster Roast

Topping – Nov. 14 – From the Rappahannock, For the Rappahannock: Oysters for Life

Lancaster – Nov. 14 – MBW Museum Oyster Roast: Shuckin’ & Jivin’ on the Lancaster Green

Machipongo – Nov. 14 – Merroir & Terroir – Oyster Extravaganza

Afton – Nov. 14 – 15 – Oyster Roast at Cardinal Point Vineyard & Winery

Melfa – Nov. 14 – Oysters a la Carte

Reedville – Nov. 14 – Reedville Fishermen’s Museum Oyster Roast

Newport News – Nov. 14 – Virginia Living Museum Oyster Roast

Onancock – Nov. 20 – 21 – Ducks Unlimited Oyster & Wine Lovers’ Weekend

Machipongo – Nov. 21 – Ducks Unlimited Oyster Roast

Chesapeake – Nov. 21 – Oyster & South Festival

Irvington – Nov. 21 – Taste by the Bay: Wine, Food, Arts & Ale

Cape Charles – Nov. 28 – Cape Charles Historical Society Oyster Roast

Heathsville – Dec. 5 – "Oysters and Oldies" Christmas Oyster Roast

Chincoteague Island – May 7 – Annual Chincoteague Seafood Festival

Chincoteague Island – Oct. 8 – Annual Chincoteague Island Oyster Festival

Chincoteague named second-best island, ahead of Key West, Hilton Head

Chincoteague Island on Virginia’s Eastern SHore ranks second in a list of top 10 island destinations in the U.S. compiled by the website TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor.com, which uses reviews from travelers and interactive forums to provide information to consumers. Chincoteague was ranked just ahead of Marco Island , Fla. San Juan Island, Wash., and Maui, Hawaii, round out the top five.

image“Wild horses can actually drag you away…to Chincoteague Island,” the website says. “Here, ponies run wild, you can catch or dig up your own seafood, and the beaches bring literal breaths of fresh air.”

The website notes that the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a unspoiled spot for bird watching, horseback riding, swimming and biking.

Plus there is the Pony Swim. Every summer since 1925, all of the feral ponies on Assateague are rounded up for a swim across the channel to Chincoteague.

Chincoteague also is in the running now for the title of “happiest seaside town” by Coastal Living magazine, one of 10 communities so honored.

The designation appears in the March 2014 issue of the magazine, which hit newsstands Friday, Feb. 14. It is the magazine’s third annual listing of happiest coastal communities.

Last year a travel website named Assateague one of the “best beaches on Earth.” In 2010, Chincoteague was named America’s Best Beach Town by the AOL Travel website.

The islands on the TripAdvisor list this year are:

1. Marco Island, Fla.
2. Chincoteague Island VA
3. Anna Maria Island, Fla.
4. San Juan Island, Wash.
5. Maui, Hawaii
6. Kauai, Hawaii
7. Island of Hawaii
8. Nantucket, Mass.
9. Hilton Head Island, S.C.
10.  Key West, Fla.

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FBI crime stats look good for Virginia

The latest statistics from the FBI show that Virginia was the fourth-safest state in the nation in 2012 — that is, we had the fourth-lowest rate of violent crime.

Virginia reported 190.1 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 inhabitants (a standard measure of crime). Only Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire had lower rates.

"Violent crime" means murder, rape, robber, and assault; we were ranked #21 in murder, #4 in rape,  #13 in robbery, and #5 in assault. So… good on us! (Except for the murder thing. We should try to do better there.)

How about non-violent "property" crime? More good news. Virginia was ranked ninth in the nation overall (Puerto Rico was ranked best), and #7 in vehicle theft (Vermont was #1).

In fact, get this: Only Virginia and Idaho were in the top ten for (lack of) both violent crime and property crime.

Oh, and our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.? It had the worst record for violent crime and the worst record on property crime — beating out the 50 states and Puerto Rico.

UVA and W&M Top 10 Ranked by Princeton Review

The University of Virginia in Charlottesville and the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg ranked first and fourth among the 2013 Princeton Review’s list of top 10 best values for public colleges.

The educational services company released its annual list of the nation’s best undergraduate colleges this year, including 138 schools in the southeast region and 378 across the country.

According to The Princeton Review website, the list was determined by student answers to surveys asking them to rate their schools in academic and student life areas.

Six other Virginia universities were listed among the publication’s 75 best values for public colleges: (CNU) Christopher Newport, George Mason, James Madison, Longwood, Radford and Virginia Tech.

The University of Richmond made Princeton’s list of 75 best values for private colleges.

The lists are based on data collected from fall 2011 through fall 2012 through institutional and student surveys. The publication weighted more than 30 measurements including academics, costs and financial aid.

Princeton Review also considered the percentage of graduating seniors with student loans and the average debt of students at graduation.

The top 10 public schools included:

1. U.Va.
2. UNC-Chapel Hill
3. New College of Florida
4. William & Mary
5. University of California- Los Angeles (UCLA)
6. N.C. State
7. University of Wisconsin-Madison
8. State University of New York at Binghamton
9. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
10. University of Georgia

Mortgage rates ease back

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.31 percent from 4.37 percent last week, according to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey. A year ago, the average rate was 3.49 percent.

The 15-year, fixed rate mortgage also decreased to 3.39 percent, down from last week when it averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago, the average was 2.8 percent.

"Mortgage rates eased for the second consecutive week which should help to alleviate market concerns of a slowdown in the housing market,” Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist and vice president said in a statement. “Thus far, existing home sales for June were the second highest since November 2009 and new home sales were the strongest since May 2008. In addition, the low inventories of homes for purchase are putting upward pressure on house prices.”

In Virginia, residential sales volume (measured by the dollar value of real estate sold) passed an important milestone in the second quarter of 2013. Sales volume surpassed the volume sold in 2010 when sales were boosted by tax credit incentives. The 2010 comparison is important because the 2013 Virginia housing market has advanced beyond the peak of the 2010 market, despite significant economic stressors (government sequester) and without economic incentives (tax credits). All in all, the second quarter was strong and continues to exhibit signs of recovery.

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Comparing the 2013 housing market to the 2010 housing market performance, inspired us to look back at sales volumes in the two years (2005 and 2006) prior to the peak “bubble” market in 2007 as possible benchmarks to recovery. A comparison of 2005-2006 sales volume to 2012-2013 shows that the Virginia housing market is well on its way back to normal. With unemployment rates continuing to fall and mortgage interest rates remaining low, we are looking forward to a strong market in July and August. The next two months may indicate whether we will continue to see encouraging numbers through the end of the year.

Analysis and commentary by Ted Koebel, Senior Research Associate, and Mel Jones, Research Associate, of the Virginia Center for Housing Research at Virginia Tech.

Click here for full Q2 2013 Home Sales Report

Red crabs could be seafood’s next big thing

The cameras were rolling Tuesday when workers at a Hampton fish house wheeled a vat of glistening Chesapeake ray toward celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, who had come to Virginia for a taste of it.

imageThe cameras weren’t rolling a few minutes later when he put a forkful of Atlantic red crab meat into his mouth and proclaimed, "This is crazy good!"

Tuesday proved something of a doubleheader for Virginia seafood marketing efforts.

Zimmern, host of The Travel Channel’s "Bizarre Foods America," had traveled to L.D. Amory & Co.’s seafood packing house in search of Chesapeake ray, an odd and plentiful species that, despite years of marketing efforts by the industry and the state, has proved a difficult sell to the public.

More of the story here

In Williamsburg, the only restaurant serving the red crabs is Seasons They are being processed by Graham & Rollins and Amory Seafood, in Hampton

Dominion Virginia Power – Energy Conservation Programs

The time for everyone to get in on the savings is now!!

Dominion Virginia Power is committed to helping its residential customers save energy and money and is offering these energy conservation programs to help  customers conserve energy and maximize savings.

These energy efficiency and peak-shaving programs are designed to meet the needs of customers and move Dominion towards meeting the state’s 10 percent voluntary energy conservation goal enacted by the Virginia General Assembly and the governor in 2007. They provide environmental benefits in a cost-effective manner that translates into very real financial savings for  customers.

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Home Programs

Details are available at Dominion’s website at www.dom.com/savenowVA.

Kroger and Harris Teeter Announce Merger Agreement

The largest grocery store chain in the US is getting  bigger.

Kroger Co. said today it is buying Harris Teeter Supermarkets in a deal valued at  $2.4 billion .

The deal will be the fourth-largest acquisition of a North American food retailer the past decade. It also would be Kroger’s biggest takeover since 1998, when it bought Fred Meyer for more than $12 billion, according to financial media giant Bloomberg.

Kroger has seven supermarkets in Hampton Roads and is scheduled to open the region’s first Kroger Marketplace – a larger format that sells furniture and jewelry in addition to groceries – later this month in Virginia Beach. It plans to expand that concept to two more locations in Portsmouth and Suffolk.

Harris Teeter, based in Matthews, N.C., has 15 stores in Hampton Roads and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

After the deal closes, Harris Teeter will continue to operate its stores as a subsidiary of Kroger, which will then have 9% market share nationwide.

The proposed merger of The Kroger Co. and Harris Teeter Supermarkets Inc. would make Hampton Roads one of a handful of markets where the two grocers overlap – in some cases with stores right next to each other.

That could force the combined company to close or sell at least a few local stores.

"We look forward to bringing together the best of Kroger and Harris Teeter while continuing to operate and grow the Harris Teeter brands," Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s chief financial officer, said during a Tuesday conference call with analysts.

Kroger has no plans to close stores and intends to keep the Harris Teeter name, Schlotman said. The chains have "minor overlap" in Hampton Roads, Charlottesville and in the Raleigh, N.C., and Nashville, Tenn., areas, he said. "We’re making plans for how we’ll operate in each of these markets in the long term."

The deal requires approval from the Federal Trade Commission, which could require the company to sell off some locations where the combined retailers would wield too much market control. That’s likely to happen in Hampton Roads because of the amount of overlap, said Jeff Metzger, publisher of Food World, a supermarket industry publication based in Columbia, Md.

Metzger said he also expects Kroger to eventually choose one of the two names under which to operate all of its stores in this region.

SAT Scores in the Williamsburg-Yorktown Area

One of the ways high school students measure their progress toward being ready for college is their SAT score

SAT tests are standardized tests that are administered by The College Board. The purpose of the SATs is to measure a student’s proficiency and readiness for college.  Most colleges require prospective students to provide their SAT score as part of their admissions package.

Average SAT scores can be used to compare high schools

At the high school level, the average SAT score for the school is one way to compare how well one high school prepares their students for college.  When we review the Average SAT scores by high school, it gives us a parameter to help us compare high schools.

At the high school level, the average SAT score for the school is one way to compare how well one high school prepares their students for college.  When we review the Average SAT scores by high school, it gives us a parameter to help us compare high schools.

What should we read into SAT scores? By and large, SAT scores are less reflective of classroom-level outputs and more a measure of cumulative individual input, aptitude, or initiative. Nonetheless, however, SAT participation and results may indicate the degree to which a school, division, or community promotes or supports college readiness, preparation, and admission.

Below is a table ranking all of the high schools in the Williamsburg/ James City County, York County, Poquoson, Hampton, Isle of Wight, Newport News, New Kent, Gloucester, Suffolk school districts by their average 2011 SAT test results. 

School Rankings – by 2012 Average SAT Scores2012 Sat rankings for Yorktown, Williamsburg VA high schools by mr williamsburg

The scores are derived from the Virginia Department of Education database to show average SAT test scores statewide for 2012. The state provides each public high school’s verbal, math and writing scores. Mr Williamsburg has added up the scores and ranked high schools from the area. 2012 Rankings are provided for schools 1 through 25

SAT scores are only one way to compare high schools

As  mentioned earlier, SAT scores apply specifically to gauge how well the high school has prepared its students for this standardized test. But only a fraction of the students take this test, since not all the students in a high school plan to go to college.

To get a better picture, we can compare using SOLs

Another way to rank Hampton Roads, Williamsburg & Yorktown high schools could be using their Average Standard of Learning (SOL) scores, which is a test mandated by the State of Virginia and is administered to all the students (unlike the SATs which are only administered to those who choose to take it). But then one could wonder if the school is “teaching to the test” or if the school is truly preparing its students for real life.

View SOL, ACT other test results for all Virginia Schools here

Of course, tests only tell you part of the story

Academics are a very important part of education, but there are many other aspects of education that are highly relevant, for example: foreign languages, sports programs, leadership programs, clubs, and, of course, the environment in which everything takes place.  All these (and more) are very important parts of a student’s education.

Search homes for sale in Williamsburg, Yorktown and beyond by School district here

Top 10 States for Retirement- Virginia Ranked #6

The popular answer for the best states for retirement seems to be anywhere along the Sun Belt, where retiring Americans have flocked for generations in search of sunshine, swimming pools and year-round golf.

Yet, if you consider other factors that are important for seniors, you’d find that some of the best spots are actually located farther north.

Bankrate pored through a slew of key factors, including access to medical care, cost of living, local crime rates, state and local taxes — as well as climate.

Here are the top 10 states for retirement in Bankrate’s analysis:
1. Tennessee
2. Louisiana
3. South Dakota
4. Kentucky
5. Mississippi
6. Virginia
7. West Virginia
8. Alabama
9. Nebraska
10. North Dakota

“Virginia isn’t just for lovers. It’s for seniors looking for an all-around good place to settle down,” Bankrate said Monday in its write-up about the list.

“The Old Dominion is better than average in most categories that Bankrate considered, including cost of living, warmer temperatures and access to physicians.

“With only 2,446 property and violent crimes per 100,000 people, Virginia has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.

“Throw all of that in with Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, the Blue Ridge Parkway and other gems, and you have one of the best states in the U.S. for retirees.”

Virginia was flanked by West Virginia, which ranked No. 7, and Mississippi, at No. 5.

No. 1 was Tennessee, which was deemed an exceptional place for retires, especially for those on tight budgets and fixed incomes. Its one drawback was a high crime rate.

This list had a few surprises — North Dakota, No. 10, and South Dakota, No. 3. If people can get past the frigid temperatures, the two states have a lot going for them, Bankrate said.

Chris Kahn, an analyst with Bankrate.stated “This year we wanted to focus on the kind of questions retirees should be asking themselves if they decide to make a move,” Kahn said.

Kahn, who lived briefly in the Fan District in 2000 and Roanoke for four years in the mid-2000s, said he was not surprised Virginia made the list.

“Everyone has their own private list of what they want. Some people absolutely need to be near the beach. Some want to be near the grandkids. Some want to live in the city and some want to live outside the city.”

These variables can’t be addressed, Kahn said. “We try to take subjectivity out and provide a baseline of questions.”

The methodology was based on medical statistics on the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people provided by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the number of doctors per 100,000 residents from the U.S. census.

Crime statistics on violent crimes and property crimes per 100,000 people came from the 2011 FBI Uniform Crime Report. Tax rates were based on an estimate of the state and local tax burden (income, sales, property and other taxes) by the Tax Foundation.

Average temperatures over 30 years (from 1981 to 2010) were provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Western Regional Climate Center. Cost-of-living stats were from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

One of a kind golf course home in Fords Colony

“Grand and comfortable.” This was John and Diana’s guiding vision in designing their gracious brick Colonial that bears resemblance to the Governor’s Palace in Colonial Williamsburg.

front“We wanted a house that was not a replica of the Governor’s Palace, but that made people say ‘Hey, this looks a little like it,’” said John, the CEO of a federal government contractor. “We wanted it to be one of the neighborhood’s showcases, but we also wanted a place where people would feel comfortable, where they could put their feet up and relax. I feel we accomplished that.”

The 6,500 square foot home was built in 2006 by Hallmark Builders. “We went with Hallmark because of the quality of their homes,” John said. “Their homes are very sturdy and we like the creativity of the owner.”

The couple chose to build their home in the country club community of Ford’s Colony because it offered multiple golf courses. “Diana and I play golf several times a week,” said John. “We knew we would get bored if we played the same course so often.” Ford’s Colony includes three Dan Maples championship golf courses; the couple chose to build their home on the 15th hole of the Blue Heron course.

rear view from course

Maximizing views of the golf course was a primary goal in placing the home on the nearly half-acre lot. Several of the rooms, including the great room, kitchen, keeping room, master bedroom and study, have outstanding golf course views.

The overall size of the house was influenced by one of John’s must-haves: oversized garage doors to easily get his cars in and out of the home’s two garages. “In some ways, our design size all started with the 10-foot wide garage doors,” said John. “With wider doors, we had a wider base for the house.”

kitchen1

That extra footage was perfect for meeting another of the couple’s requirements, extra large guest bedrooms to accommodate their many guests. Three spacious guest bedrooms with en suite bathrooms are on the second floor; the master bedroom, which includes a sitting area and tray ceiling, is on the main level.

John and Diane are movie-lovers, so a fully equipped movie room was included on the second level, above the two-car garage. The room includes a 60” x 90”movie screen and seven theatre-style reclining seats with ButtKicker simulation technology. The movie room, which is John’s favorite space in the house, includes a wet bar, a beverage center, and a dinette for two. A spiral staircase leads from the movie room to the kitchen.

theater rm2

The second level also includes a game room with a pinball machine, diner-like eating area, and custom built-in twin beds so the couple’s grandchildren could have sleep-overs. “The room was created primarily for our grandchildren,” John noted.

On the main level is a formal living room, a two-story great room, and a large kitchen designed for a true cook. “The kitchen has plenty of space to put everything where you need it,” said John. “Three or four people can work in there without bumping. It’s great for entertaining.”

living1

The kitchen has a breakfast bar, space for a dining table, and a “keeping room” nook area (with fireplace) that overlooks the back yard and the golf course. “It feels so comfortable and cozy when it’s just the two of us,” said Diana of her favorite spot in the house.

Conveniently located off the kitchen is another home essential, a wine room. John and Diana are wine enthusiasts— with a penchant for French wines— so they included a climate controlled wine room with custom racks to hold 880 bottles. “We never had more than 450 bottles of wine there because we kept drinking it!” John joked. The room features a Tiffany lamp and Italian hand paintings of grapes and vines on the double-paned glass of the room’s window and door.

wine cellar

The first floor includes a cherry-paneled study with shelving and a custom, built-in desk large enough that John and Diana can work on opposite sides of the desk at the same time. There is also a main floor music room that houses Diana’s baby grand piano. “There are great acoustics because of the hardwood floors,” said Diana, who is a former NIH grants policy officer. “When I play, the music reverberates through the rest of the house.” Floors on the first level and in the upper hallway/movie room are Brazilian cherry.

Ceilings on the first floor are 10 feet high, and all of the main doors on that level, including the entry door, are 9 feet. “It looks very grand, very impressive,” John said. “And, the doors have period brass fixtures that feel substantial in your hand.”

bfast nook1

The couple included extensive, detailed molding throughout the home. The dining room has wainscoting and 10-piece crown molding. The coffered ceiling in the kitchen has 6-piece moldings, and most of the other rooms have crown molding with at least 4 pieces. “The moldings are not pretentious, they’re just really nice,” said John. “The finish work in this house is just fantastic.”

Another unusual feature is the extensive use of different types of granite. Diana’s favorite is the Black Marinace granite used both in the kitchen and as a surround for the study’s fireplace. “It looks like sliced river rock,” she said.

office2

The couple created a backyard oasis with a deck, a hot tub and an outdoor kitchen with gas grill, refrigerator and sink. A pond-less waterfall feature provides the sound of falling water that John enjoys.

The back yard also has a natural gas built-in fire pit. “No wood is required, but sometimes I’ll put a few sticks on it to get the snap and crackle sound,” said John.

fire pit patio2

The Ford’s Colony gated community offers numerous amenities, including playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, swimming pools, and 200+ acres of natural preserve with 12 miles of paved walking/biking trails. The Country Club’s dining room has garnered AAA Five Diamond awards.

But the couple likes the neighborhood activities even more than the amenities. They were members of the Wine Enthusiasts Club, once hosting a wine party for about 80 people, and participated in the Dance Club. “Ford’s Colony is phenomenal in the way it embraces residents, and it’s easy to make friends here,” said Diana, noting that the monthly newsletter includes pages of activities that range from bowling and fishing to bird watching and theatre. “If you can’t find something interesting here, you’re just not living,” Diana said.

patio2

Yet it’s at home that the couple seems most happy. “We just love to be outside, to sit on the deck and watch nature take its course,” said John. “We might put 10 chairs around the fire pit, have a few bottles of wine, invite some friends and talk around the camp fire. We’ve had some really great evenings sitting round that fire pit.”

John and Diana, who have a primary home in the Washington, D.C. area, built their Ford’s Colony home as a second residence, with a plan to retire there. For the first few years, they were able to spend significant time in Ford’s Colony. However, more recently John’s retirement plans changed, and for the past couple years they have spent less than 20 days a year there.

master2

“Since we aren’t able to use it much, even though we love it and long to go down, we’re selling the home,” John said. Why did they choose John Womeldorf, Mr. Williamsburg, to help them with the sale? “His marketing strategy matched what we were looking for,” said Diana. “And the company had impressive credentials.”

Diana said that she will miss her Ford’s Colony home. “Some of my favorite times were in the fall, sitting by the fire pit, looking onto the golf course with a glass of wine and chatting into the dark.”

master bath1

Why the stories? Because these aren’t just houses, they’re homes. 

Mr. Williamsburg knows that when you’re looking for a new place, you’re searching for more than just four walls plus amenities, you’re looking for that welcoming refuge we call home That’s why we go beyond the standard “4 bedrooms, 3 baths on large lot” statistics, to share how others have lived in this house, to reveal the home’s unique personality, to help you decide whether this is a place where your family could thrive.

Likewise, we realize that you’re seeking not simply a development within a particular zip code, but also an opportunity to become part of a community. That’s why we share our sellers’ experiences as members of that neighborhood. 

We trust these stories will assist you in finding your way home.

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Want to tell your home’s story? Contact John “Mr. Williamsburg” Womeldorf at (757) 254-8136 or John@MrWilliamsburg.com and we’ll get you started.

New JCC Parks and Recreation Spring Summer Guide is out

The James City County  Parks and Recreation Spring/Summer 2013 Destination Recreation Activity Brochure is now available online. It highlights a variety of new spring and summer offerings as well as your favorite events and activities occurring through September 2013.

Inside you will find Special Events for Family, Outdoors and Health/Wellness

As well as Summer  Camps, Classes & Activities including:

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The brochure is also available at the James City County Recreation Center, the James River Community Center, the Satellite Services Office, the Freedom Park Interpretive Center, the libraries and all public County government offices.

Sneak Preview of new models at Colonial Heritage in Williamsburg VA

Lennar the developer and builder of the Colonial Heritage Active adult community of Williamsburg VA will soon be unveiling 11 exciting new models of detached homes.

Colonial Heritage is one of three active adult communities in the Williamsburg, Virginia area, and is the perfect place for adults 55 years of age and better. With an 18-hole Arthur Hills championship golf course, a 7,500 square foot athletic club, a 25,000 square foot clubhouse and dancing, walking, biking and swimming facilities.

huntley model, colonial heritage, williamsburg va

Introductory pricing for the new range of detached homes will start in the $250’s for a 1366 square foot model ( Belle Grove) and range up to $424,990 for a 2773 square foot Randolph model.  No attached homes will be built at this time.

Avon great roomThree series of models will be built including the Cottage Series, the Manor Series and the top end Plantation Series homes. As before all homes are built with slab foundations and the Manor and Plantation Series will also offer basement options.

A first for Lennar and Colonial Heritage is a new side entry garage model, the Avon pictured below. The 1800 sq. ft. home offers a huge great room area with an open kitchen dining area that lives like a much larger home. The 2 bedroom, 2 bath Manor Series Home is priced at 329,990 or $349,990 with an unfinished basement. Note the basement adds an additional 1800+ square feet to the home.  Avon model-Colonial Heritage, Williamsburg VA

The two largest models (Claremont and Randolph)  come standard with three car garages. The Berkeley can be built with an optional double deep 19 x 34 garage great for the home hobbyist or woodworker.

A variety of pre-construction incentives are being offered until April 15th , 2013 including a choice of :

  • a 12×20 brick paver patio with fire pit.
  • $10,000 in closing cost assistance.
  • Free deck
  • Finishing of a basement rec room with bath
  • Upgrades to Gold or Platinum Option package + Washer and Dryer
  • See below for details:

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If you would like a private pre-grand opening sneak preview contact me and I will set it up.

Want to see the full range of plans and elevations for the new models ?

Fill out the form here and we will send them pronto via email

We  will also make sure to keep you apprised of everything that’s happening at Colonial Heritage before anyone else knows…

Randolph -model, colonial heritage, williamsburg va

 

Read more about the Colonial Heritage Active Adult Community in Williamsburg VA here

Search homes for sale in Colonial Heritage ( Note- the new models at Colonial Heritage will not appear in this list until sometime in March)

Search homes for sale in Active Adult Communities in Williamsburg VA here  ( Note- the new models at Colonial Heritage will not appear in this list until sometime in March)

Read about other active adult 55+ communities in Hampton Roads, New Kent here

 

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Twelve Standout Schools in Hampton Roads

Congratulations to  Tabb , Jamestown Grafton and Poquoson High Schools for being recognized by Hampton Roads Magazine among the twelve best public high schools in Hampton Roads for the 2012 school year!

imageBased on the statistics compiled by the magazine  in their high school stats chart, and with academics (AP test taking percentages and SOL scores) weighted slightly more heavily than dropout rates and behavioral offences,

Below are their top five best public high schools in the Hampton Roads region for the 2012 school year.

DEAN’S LIST

1. TABB HIGH
4431 Big Bethel Rd., Yorktown
757-867-7400
www.YorkCountySchools.org/THS

District: York County Schools
Awards: Governor’s Award for Educational Excellence (2011); Virginia Board of Education’s Competence to Excellence Award (2010); more than 20 state athletic championships
Standout programs: The York County School of the Arts, a program in the fine arts, provides students with an education comparable to the math and science opportunities offered by the Governor’s School for Science and Technology. Through the Virtual Learning Program, students engage in curriculum that blends online and offline learning experiences.

2. JAMESTOWN HIGH
3751 John Tyler Highway, Williamsburg
757-259-3600
www.WJCC.k12.va.us

District: Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools

Awards: Second-highest ranked high school in the Hampton Roads region in Newsweek’s listing of America’s Best High Schools; 63 percent of 2012 graduates enrolled in four-year colleges or universities.
Standout programs: Students may enroll in concurrent courses at The College of William and Mary, Christopher Newport University and Thomas Nelson Community College. Dual enrollment credit is offered for many technical and academic classes, with some technical courses leading to industry certification.

3. PRINCESS ANNE HIGH
4400 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach
757-648-5600
www.PrincessAnneHS.VBSchools.com

District: Virginia Beach City Schools

Awards: Maintains its place as the highest ranked high school in Virginia Beach as well as the Hampton Roads region in Newsweek’s listing of America’s Best High Schools.
Standout programs: Home of Virginia Beach’s International Baccalaureate program, designed to meet the highest standards required of any high school in the world. The prestigious program offers a rigorous, comprehensive approach to learning in the last two years of secondary school. The school also hosts the Virginia Beach center for students with moderate to severe disabilities.

4. GRASSFIELD HIGH
2007 Grizzly Trail, Chesapeake
757-558-4749
www.CPSchools.com/Schools/GFH

District: Chesapeake City Public Schools
Awards: Principal Carolyn Bernard received the prestigious 2013 AdvancED Virginia Excellence in Education Award.
Standout programs: Governor’s STEM Academy operates as a school-within-a-school and features a cutting-edge curriculum especially designed for students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. Students have multiple opportunities for taking advanced courses and sampling special programs such as mentorship and internship.

5. FRANK W. COX HIGH
2425 Shorehaven Dr., Virginia Beach
757-648-5250
www.CoxHS.VBSchools.com

District: Virginia Beach City Schools

Awards: More than $3 million in scholarship money awarded to graduating seniors in June 2011; Virginia High School League Wachovia Cup for outstanding academic and athletic achievement has been awarded to the school more than any other school in the state.
Standout programs: The school has won 40 state athletic titles overall. Blue ribbon awards were also given for the music program, student newspaper and student yearbook.

Other local schools in the honor roll list of Hampton Roads Magazine included:

Maury High,
Norfolk
Salem High,
Virginia Beach
First Colonial High,
Virginia Beach
Hickory High,
Chesapeake
Grafton High,
Yorktown
Poquoson High,
Poquoson
Great Bridge High,
Chesapeake

 

Statistics were gleaned from the Virginia Department of Education website: www.DOE.Virginia.Gov

This article appears in full in the February 2013 issue of Hampton Roads Magazine.

Search homes for sale in the top rated Hampton Roads high school districts below.

 

Search homes for sale in Jamestown High School District  in Williamsburg VA

 

Search homes for sale in Tabb High School District in York County VA

 

Search homes for sale in Grafton High School District in York County VA

 

Search homes for sale in Grassfield High School District in Chesapeake VA

 

Search homes for sale in Great Bridge High School Zone, Chesapeake Virginia

 

Search homes for sale in Poquoson High School District in Poquoson VA

 

Search homes for sale in Princess Anne High School District in Virginia Beach VA

 

Search homes for sale in Cox High School District in Virginia Beach VA

 

Pssst.——I’m a real estate agent.

This post was authored by local resident and REALTOR, John Womeldorf. John is known around town as Mr. Williamsburg, for both his extensive knowledge of the Williamsburg/ Hampton Roads area and his expertise in the local real estate market.

Thanks for stopping by my website. I would love to help you find your dream home and community in the Hampton Roads or Williamsburg area or to sell your existing home.

I can help you access all the information you will need about choosing a neighborhood and buying a home in New Kent, Gloucester, Newport News, Hampton, York County, Smithfield, Williamsburg, Poquoson or the greater Hampton Roads area, including area information on schools, local government, shopping, activities for the children and more! Whether you have made a decision to relocate, retire or are just considering a move to Williamsburg or Hampton Roads VA, let me help make your transition or PCS to the area a smooth and enjoyable one!

Hampton Roads is a transient community due to the large population of military members in the area. I have a unique perspective on relocation and have helped many families move in and out of the area. I understand the kind of support team it takes to make a smooth transition.

Area Orientations

Complete tours can be scheduled to help you familiarize yourself with Williamsburg and Hampton Roads neighborhoods, home prices, shopping centers, military bases, recreational facilities, public & private schools and transportation systems. My orientation will provide you with awareness of aircraft noise & accident potential zones, flood zones, major traffic patterns and commute times to your job.

You can search homes for sale , active adult communities, 55+ communities, condos and townhomes ,foreclosures/ REO, land, building lots, commercial property in Williamsburg , Yorktown, New Kent, Gloucester, Poquoson as well as the surrounding areas of Hampton Roads, Virginia

You can reach text or call me at 757-254-8136 or email John@MrWilliamsburg.com

I look forward to serving your real estate needs!

Best,

John

Virginia Homes Sales Steadily Recovering for 2012

We are all taught that real estate is local but its always good to see how the other areas of your state are faring in the market.

If 2011 was a year of transition for Virginia home sales, 2012 was a year of strength in the residential housing market. Nearly every month during 2012 the residential home sales market experienced higher sales levels as compared to the same month during 2011. Many of these buyers committed to a home purchase because of increasing job stability and certainty, others purchased because of the historically low interest rates, and still others sensed that the bottom of the housing market had arrived, or even passed them by. While each of Virginia’s home buyers during 2012 may have purchased for their own individual reasons, collectively they helped surpass 2010 and 2011 home sales.

The Virginia Association of Realtors just released their annual  report for 2012. The “Pieces of Home 2012 Housing Market Report” says Virginia saw an 8 percent growth year-over-year in home sales in 2012. Nearly every month last year the home sales market experienced higher sales when compared with the same month in 2011.The Virginia Association of Realtors just released their annual  report for 2012. The “Pieces of Home 2012 Housing Market Report” says Virginia saw an 8 percent growth year-over-year in home sales in 2012.

However, some regions fared better than others.  According to  VAR, the Central Virginia and Northern Virginia regions led the way with 11% and 9% growth respectively, though the Central Shenandoah Valley (+8%) and Roanoke / Lynchburg / Blacksburg (+7%) weren’t far behind.

Another highlight from the report is that Virginia’s median sales price increased 7 percent year-over-year,  to $240,000. Home prices were higher than that in Northern Virginia. The report includes housing data, trends and comparisons, and articles by real estate experts from across the commonwealth.

Pieces of Home is a comprehensive housing market report including market data, trends and comparisons, articles by real estate experts from across the Commonwealth as well as an article from Governor Bob McDonnell on how Virginia has remained on top.

• Is it a buyers market or sellers market?
• Which Virginia region saw the greatest increase in home sales in 2012?
• Are foreclosures still lingering heavy in Virginia?
• How does the state compare to the US?
• How are mortgage lenders preparing for the new regulations?
• What do recent studies show regarding home pricing?

Click here to download the Pieces of Home 2012 Virginia Housing Market Report.

College of William and Mary Ranked No. 4 ‘Best Value Public College’

UVa Moves Up in New Rankings to Take Top Spot from UNC

 

William & Mary is one of the top values in the nation, according to a report released by the Princeton Review this morning.

imageThe university ranks fourth among public colleges and universities in the report, which looks at academic excellence, cost, financial aid and other factors at 150 universities and colleges across the country. The ranking was featured on the Today show this morning. William & Mary ranked sixth among public universities in the same listing last year.

The announcement comes just about a month after Kiplinger’s Personal Finance also lauded William & Mary for its value. At the end of December 2012, the magazine listed William & Mary fourth among its list of top 100 American public colleges and universities that combine “outstanding education and economic value.” It was the fourth year in a row that William & Mary was listed as the fourth in the country.

Although today’s Princeton Review report, which is produced in partnership with USA Today, does not rank the schools one through 150, it does include top 10 lists for the 75 schools in both the public and private categories. The remaining schools are listed in alphabetical order. The institutions that appear on the list were selected from 650 colleges where the Princeton Review conducted institutional and student surveys in 2011-12.

The University of Virginia topped the list of public colleges, followed by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and New College of Florida.

A link to the Princeton Review rankings can be found HERE.

 

 

New program will allow some On-Time Borrowers to Leave Homes & Mortgages

imageFor some homeowners, March 1, 2013 will be Liberation Day. That’s when Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will start allowing some homeowners who have been stuck in their homes—unable to move because they owe more than the property is worth—to walk away from their homes and mortgages

The new rules for deed-in-lieu of transactions apply to people who are current or less than 90 days late on their mortgage payments. To the extent that the change makes it easier for people to move—to take a new job, shift locations following the death of a spouse or caregiver, or if they become ill and can no longer afford the house payment—it should help the economic recovery. The change also will benefit military personnel who are relocated.

Previous foreclosure-prevention programs were designed to help only borrowers on the verge of losing their homes, in effect penalizing those who kept paying.

To be eligible to turn over the house keys, homeowners must be making payments of at least 55 percent of their monthly income for the house and must be able to document a “hardship” that requires a move, such as a spouse’s death. The home must be clean and not damaged. Homeowners may also have to surrender as much as 20 percent of personal assets, excluding retirement accounts, to partially meet the loan’s unpaid balance, depending on the borrower’s financial situation. The program does not affect second mortgages. Mortgage servicers can offer up to $6,000 for second-lien holders to release borrowers from the loans, but there’s no requirement that the holders agree. This could limit participation.

What is the process for a Deed-in-Lieu?

To qualify for a DIL, you will work with your mortgage company to complete the eligibility process, such as determining the value of the property and how much you still owe as well as reviewing your current hardship. If approved, you will need to vacate the property (unless we agree to lease the property back to you), and you may be required to sign standard pre-closing documents as well as attend the closing.

Additionally, you will need to leave the home—both inside and outside—in good condition, free of interior and exterior trash, debris or damage, and all personal belongings must be removed. In some cases, you may be eligible to receive relocation assistance to use toward your moving expenses and to make the transition to new housing easier.

A DIL usually takes around 90 days to complete, but this could be shorter or longer or depending upon your specific situation.

The new programs are separate from the government’s Making Home Affordable foreclosure-prevention efforts that require homeowners to be in or near default. The Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac programs don’t require borrowers to be turned down for a modification before applying, as does the Treasury-run Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative program, or Hafa.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may require repayment of some of the shortfall between the value of the home and the mortgage balance — if the borrowers have the means. Homeowners who apply for deed-in-lieu transactions may be asked to make cash contributions of up to 20 percent of their financial reserves, excluding retirement accounts, according to the guidelines.

Or, they may be asked to sign a promissory note for future no-interest repayments. The amount and terms can be negotiated, according to the servicer guidelines.

Two weeks ago, Congress extended a law that grants tax-free status to the forgiven portions of mortgages, which normally would be considered income for the borrower.

Builder on Eastern Shore of VA earns highest efficiency rating

It may seem as if LEED Platinum designations must always be awarded to the most ultra-modern, big-city projects with huge price tags and outlandish designs. Sometimes, however, the U.S. Green Building Council’s highest rating recognizes the ingenuity used to make modest, rural homes as energy efficient as humanly possible.

kellam home in cape charlesSuch is the case for a 3,500-square-foot residence located on Cape Charles, Va., on what is known as the Eastern Shore, a long, sparsely populated strip of land formed between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The home, which uses heat-pump technology, photovoltaic solar panels, a rainwater harvesting system and several other green features, is he first building on the Eastern Shore

Since he was a small boy, Luke Kellam has been swinging a hammer. But his building resumé, up until a few years ago, only included some tree forts and a house that he helped a contractor construct in Wyoming, where he once lived and worked as a wilderness instructor.

After the West, and a stint teaching in Northern Virginia, Kellam found himself back on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where he grew up in Belle Haven, itching to – again – pick up that hammer and build.

This time, though, Kellam dove into his new career by working alongside a master builder in Virginia Beach for a few years until he was ready to start his own company.

That road – and opening L.J. Kellam Construction in 2005 – has led Kellam to build a single-family home that has earned the Platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification by the United States Green Building Council.

Not only is this house the Virginia Eastern Shore’s first platinum-certified LEED single-family home, it’s where his father and step-mother live.

The Platinum rating is the highest LEED rating a project can achieve.

To be LEED-certified, a home must be "designed and constructed in accordance with the rigorous guidelines of the LEED for Homes green-building certification program," according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s website, USGBC.org. "LEED for Homes is a consensus-developed, third party-verified, voluntary rating system which promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes."

Participation demonstrates leadership, innovation, environmental stewardship and social responsibility, plus, the certified buildings lower operating costs, reduce waste, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and provide a healthier environment for residents.

They also qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in many cities across the country.

Read the rest of the story here

L.J. Kellam Construction Co. was founded by Luke Kellam in 2005. The company provides residential building and general contracting services on the Eastern Shore. The headquarters is located in Belle Haven, Virginia. For more information, visit www.kellamconstruction.com.

Population growth in Virginia outpaced the nation

From UVA Today-Population growth in Virginia outpaced the nation, with highly varied growth across localities, according to the most recent official annual population estimates for the state developed by demographers from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

Virginia’s population grew by 2.3 percent, to nearly 8.2 million residents, between the 2010 census and July 1, 2012, according to the center’s estimates. During this period, the nation’s population grew by 1.7 percent.

Compared to other states, Virginia posted the 13th-highest growth rate and the sixth-largest numerical population gain.

Within Virginia, the largest population gains were concentrated in the urban centers of Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

“Nearly all of the commonwealth’s population growth in the past two years occurred in metropolitan areas, with more than half of the growth between 2010 and 2012 occurring in Northern Virginia,” said demographer Rebecca Tippett, who prepared the estimates.

“Between 2000 and 2010, Virginia’s counties grew much faster than its cities,” Tippett said. “For the past two years, the average population growth in Virginia’s independent cities has matched the county growth rate, with many independent cities among the fastest-growing localities.”

image

Covington, Lexington, Harrisonburg, Winchester, Charlottesville and Staunton were among the independent cities growing at a rate faster than the state since 2010.

Due to population aging and lower birth rates, 64 of Virginia’s localities experienced natural decrease (more deaths than births) between 2010 and 2012. While most localities gained sufficient population through migration to compensate for losses through natural decrease, 26 localities in Virginia had a net overall loss in population between 2010 and 2012. Eleven of these experienced both natural decrease and net out-migration. The largest population losses were in counties in the Southwest and Southside regions of the state.

The Cooper Center’s population estimates are the official figures for the commonwealth of Virginia. The estimates are based on changes since 2010 in housing stock, school enrollment, births, deaths and driver’s licenses. They are used by state and local government agencies in revenue sharing, funding allocations, planning and budgeting.

Population growth in Williamsburg, James City County, York County and Hampton Roads VA

 

  Census Count Cooper Center Estimates    
Locality April 1, 2010 Census July 1, 2010 Estimate July 1, 2011 Estimate July 1, 2012 Estimate
Chesapeake City 222,209 222,761 225,898 228,210
Gloucester County 36,858 36,902 36,987 36,976
Hampton City 137,436 137,184 137,372 138,848
Isle of Wight County 35,270 35,412 35,457 36,180
James City County 67,009 67,550 68,874 69,546
Mathews County 8,978 8,970 8,937 8,883
New Kent County 18,429 18,570 18,827 19,257
Newport News City 180,719 180,674 181,027 183,331
Norfolk City 242,803 242,956 243,985 245,803
Poquoson City 12,150 12,162 12,240 12,291
Portsmouth City 95,535 95,388 96,368 97,450
Suffolk City 84,585 85,166 85,692 86,463
Surry County 7,058 7,062 6,968 6,927
Virginia 8,001,024 8,025,514 8,096,604 8,185,867
Virginia Beach City 437,994 438,207 441,246 447,489
Williamsburg City 14,068 14,121 14,256 14,503
York County 65,464 65,695 65,973 66,428

Colonial Heritage in Williamsburg VA too good to leave for this retired couple

Dick and Mary Sue Metrey’s traditionally-styled, open concept home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Colonial Heritage is up for sale. But that’s not because the couple want to leave the gated, 55+ active adults community; it’s because they want to stay.

front view colonial heritage

For Dick and Mary Sue, the gracious 3-bedroom, 2-bath home they built on Blakemore Terrace in Colonial Heritage was only a summer place; their primary residence was near Washington, DC. But after less than two years of living there part-time, the couple have decided to make Colonial Heritage their permanent home.

“There is such a sense of community here,” said Mary Sue, who is retired from working with the mentally disabled. “People are friendly and they’re interesting.” However, with a huge immediate family of 19 children and grandchildren who love to visit, the Metreys need more room than their 1,756 square foot “Aldrich” model can provide. The couple regretfully decided to sell their Blakemore Terrace home, but they are building a larger home in Colonial Heritage just down the street.

living3

Dick and Mary Sue were originally drawn to Colonial Heritage for the community’s sociable character. “About 15 years ago we bought a condo in Williamsburg,” explained Mary Sue. “But eventually we wanted more of a neighborhood experience than we got with the condo, so we started looking for another home in Williamsburg.” During their search, the couple toured Colonial Heritage with a representative of the developer, Lennar Corporation, and saw firsthand the community’s welcoming nature.

“As we were driving through the neighborhood, everyone stopped to talk with the Lennar rep,” said Mary Sue. “And they talked with us, too.”

kitchen3

In 2010-11, the couple built their home at 6808 Blakemore Terrace. “It’s one of the biggest lots,” said Dick, an engineer retired from high-level positions with Naval research institutions. “Most are about 6,000 square feet and ours is 8,000 square feet. It’s also on the nicest cul-de-sac.”

Mary Sue likes the way the home is sited on the property. “There’s no house abutting the back of our home, so no one look into our great room from the back of the property,” she said. “And the front of the house doesn’t face anyone else’s door.” Colonial Heritage’s 170-acre, 18-hole Arthur Hills championship golf course sits only a few houses away.

ch golf flag

The Metreys built their single-level home for easy living. It has no steps, and includes user-friendly amenities such as lever handles on interior doors, a seat in the oversized master shower, and comfort height toilets and vanities. The open concept floor plan includes a spacious living/dining great room with a gas fireplace finished with a Colonial style mantel and a granite surround and hearth. Sliding doors lead from the great room’s dining area to the deck. The great room is also open to a chef’s kitchen that features both a breakfast bar and a breakfast nook, furniture grade Timberlake cabinetry with accent glass fronts, Corian countertops, and a gas cook top. Bringing in the groceries is a breeze: the kitchen connects to a convenient mudroom/laundry off the two-car garage.

masterAll rooms have 9 foot ceilings – perfect for Dick, who is 6’2” tall— and several feature crown molding. Most of the home is carpeted, but there is oak hardwood flooring in the kitchen and in the foyer, which receives natural light from glass transom and side lights framing the home’s six-panel entry door. “I love the foyer, the fact that you don’t walk in the house and right into the great room,” Mary Sue noted.

The home’s Lennar-appointed builder, Matt, impressed Mary Sue with his emphasis on solid construction and attention to details. “When we had our walk-through, Matt noticed things even we didn’t see,” she said. “They were very small things, but he fixed them all.” Matt’s desire to ensure everything in the house was just right, led the couple to request him as the builder of their next Colonial Heritage home.

rear viewThe yard is low maintenance. “Since we weren’t there to water all the time, we wanted to be sure the house still had nice grass,” Mary Sue said. “So we installed a very nice irrigation system.”

The couple like that Colonial Heritage, which offers tennis and bocce courts, and an 8,500 square foot fitness center, is such an active community. “There are a lot of new retirees here, it seems most residents aren’t elderly,” said Mary Sue. “You see people walking, biking and jogging, and many walk their dogs.”

While Dick bikes and jogs, Mary Sue swims at the community’s indoor and outdoor pools. She also enjoys playing in a social bridge group. “There are so many clubs and activities here, the monthly calendar must be 20 pages long,” she said. In fact, the clubs at Colonial Heritage run the gamut from a William and Mary Sports Teams Support Club to groups focused on bluegrass music, travel, and history. Mary Sue pointed out that the community also has a service oriented organization, the Colonial Heritage Community Foundation, which provides support to residents who are caregivers.

colonial heritage clubhouseThe couple especially loves the 25,000 square-foot Colonial style clubhouse, which includes both a fine dining restaurant and a casual grille. “We’ve been to New Year’s Eve parties at the clubhouse, and we’ve brought our families there for holiday dinners,” Mary Sue said. “Wednesday nights are half-price burgers at the club and everyone loves that.”

The Metreys frequently take advantage of cultural and social activities that Colonial Williamsburg—only five miles from Colonial Heritage—has to offer. “There are so many lectures there, ranging from wine making to barrel making,” noted Mary Sue. She added that some of her neighbors share such interests. “At Colonial Heritage there are people from all over the country, and with different backgrounds. We’ve met a lot of people there who are teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers…who seem to be interested in the same things we are.”

ch pool (2)Although they are excited to be moving to Colonial Heritage full-time, the couple will miss their home on Blakemore Way, which Mary Sue described as “so gently used that there are some closet shelves we’ve never even used.”

“We’ve had a neighborhood Christmas gathering there,” Mary Sue noted. “And we have loved having our grandchildren visit us there. One of our grandchildren said he likes this house better than our big house [outside Washington] with the pool!”

“We were charter members of this cul-de-sac,” Mary Sue added. “And even though we were only there part-time, we made a lot of good friends.”

Why the stories? Because these aren’t just houses, they’re homes.

Mr. Williamsburg knows that when you’re looking for a new place, you’re searching for more than just four walls plus amenities, you’re looking for that welcoming refuge we call home That’s why we go beyond the standard “4 bedrooms, 3 baths on large lot” statistics, to share how others have lived in this house, to reveal the home’s unique personality, to help you decide whether this is a place where your family could thrive.

Likewise, we realize that you’re seeking not simply a development within a particular zip code, but also an opportunity to become part of a community. That’s why we share our sellers’ experiences as members of that neighborhood.

We trust these stories will assist you in finding your way home.

Want a chance to tell your home’s story ? 

Want to see this home or others in Colonial Heritage or Williamsburg VA ?

Contact Mr Williamsburg/ John Womeldorf by phone 757 254 8136 or email John@MrWilliamsburg.com

Housing Remains on Growth Track for 2013, but Challenges Remain

I write a number of posts about real estate statistics . Most of them focus on our local Williamsburg and Hampton Roads real estate market. This update is from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and is an overall look at the US housing market.

imageUpward trends in recent months among a number of housing indicators point to a slow and steady growth in the nation’s housing market in 2013, but several challenges remain, according to the latest economic and housing forecast by David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

"Consistent, positive reports on housing starts, permits, prices, new-home sales and builder confidence in recent months provide further confirmation that a gradual but steady housing recovery is underway across much of the nation," said Crowe. "However, stubbornly tight lending standards for home buyers and builders, inaccurate appraisals and proposals by policymakers to tamper with the mortgage interest deduction could dampen future housing demand."

Stating there is no consistent national trend, Crowe noted the housing recovery is local but spreading.

"We are transitioning from a very low demand level, where most people hold themselves out of the marketplace, to a case where supply will start being the problem," he said. "As we begin to build more homes to address that supply, the new home stock will be a much more important element of the recovery."

Setting the 2000-2002 period as a baseline benchmark for normal housing activity, Crowe said that owner-occupied remodeling has returned to previously normal levels.

"Multifamily production is also well on its way, back to 69 percent of normal," he said. "It’s the single-family market that has the farthest to go, standing at only 40 percent of what is considered a typical market."

Meanwhile, the number of improving housing markets across the nation continues to show considerable advancement. When the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) was launched in September of 2011, only 12 metropolitan areas out of 360 were on the list. As of December 2012, the list stands at more than 200 metro areas. The index is based on a six-month upswing in housing permits, employment and house prices.

"One reason we have seen such a significant jump in the IMI is because house prices are beginning to recover," said Crowe. "House prices bottomed out early in 2011 and since early 2012 we’ve seen a 6 percent increase on a national basis."

Another factor spurring the recovery is that household formations are on the rise. In the early part of the decade, the nation was generating 1.4 million new households each year. This collapsed to 500,000 annually during the housing downturn and currently new households are being formed at close to a 900,000 clip per annum.

As new households form at a growing rate, so too does builder confidence. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which measures builder confidence in the single-family housing market, has posted gains for eight consecutive months and now stands at a level of 47. This is very close to the critical midpoint of 50, where equal numbers of builders view the market as good or bad. The HMI has not been above 50 since April of 2006.

Single-family home starts are projected to climb to 534,000 units this year, up 23 percent from 2011. NAHB is forecasting that single-family new-home production will post a healthy 21 percent gain in 2013 to 647,000 units. Starts will continue their upward climb in 2014, posting a further 29 percent rise to 837,000 units.

Meanwhile, new single-family home sales are expected to rise from 307,000 last year to 367,000 this year, a 20 percent rise. Sales are anticipated to climb to 447,000 next year, up 22 percent from 2012 and jump to 607,000 in 2014, a 36 percent increase over 2013 levels.

Virginia retains #2 ranking in Forbes survey

imageVirginia came in at #2 in the annual Forbes “Best States for Business” survey released on Wednesday, earning a top rank in regulatory environment for business and coming in among the top 5 states in half of the categories considered in the annual study.

Virginia has ranked among the top two during each of the seven years in the annual Best States for Business study. The state ranks on top of the regulatory category because of its strong incentive offerings and business friendly government policies. Virginia has a widely diverse economy that includes local and federal government, military, farming and manufacturing.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell said he hopes to reduce restrictions on businesses even further with a new regulatory reform initiative he launched last fall.

"Our work is not done," McDonnell said. "Smart regulatory reform will produce a freer and better environment for citizens and businesses and allow the private sector to continue creating jobs and opportunity in the commonwealth."

The website listed the median household income for Virginia at $62,936 and said it’s job growth for 2012 was running at 1 percent.

The complete list is available here.

Freddie Mac predictions for US real estate in 2013

The housing market is expected to continue its rise in the New Year, according to Freddie Mac’s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for December.

Continuing to keep home affordability low, mortgage rates will likely remain near their record lows in the first half of 2013, Freddie Mac reports. However, the all-time low rates are expected to start inching up slowly during the second half of the year.

Still, mortgage rates are expected to stay below 4 percent, Freddie Mac reports.

Some other forecasts for the housing market in 2013, according to Freddie Mac’s report:

  • Home values are expected to increase 2 to 3 percent next year. 
  • Household formation is expected to increase to a net 1.20 million to 1.25 million household in 2013. Housing starts are expected to reach near the 1 million annualized pace by the fourth quarter.
  • Vacancy rates are expected to drop to 2002 and 2003 levels for apartments and single-family homes for-sale “as household formation outpaces new construction.”

"The last few months have brought a spate of favorable news on the U.S. housing market with construction up, more home sales, and home-value growth turning positive,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “This has been a big change from a year ago, when some analysts worried that the looming ‘shadow inventory’ would keep the housing sector mired in an economic depression. Instead, the housing market is healing, is contributing positively to GDP and is returning to its traditional role of supporting the economic recovery."

More info here

Virginia home sales increase 12% in October; prices increase 9%

The October 2012 Virginia Home Sales Report has been released and yet again, most state-wide indicators show an improved housing market in the Commonwealth. I write often about local real estate statistics here in Williamsburg and Hampton Roads VA. What follows are state sales figures ….

The pace of Virginia home sales continued to increase in October 2012 with a 12% increase to 7,017 home sales -- after only a 2% increase between September 2011 and 2012. Low unemployment rates in Virginia, as well as record low mortgage interest rates, have helped Virginia’s residential housing market continue to grow throughout 2012. Monthly home sales are likely to remain at current levels through the end of the year, before declining in January.

The pace of Virginia home sales continued to increase in October 2012 with a 12% increase to 7,017 home sales — after only a 2% increase between September 2011 and 2012. Low unemployment rates in Virginia, as well as record low mortgage interest rates, have helped Virginia’s residential housing market continue to grow throughout 2012. Monthly home sales are likely to remain at current levels through the end of the year, before declining in January.

As shown above, the pace of home sales in October 2012 (7,017) marked a 12% improvement over the same month last year (6,263). 

Alongside a 12% increase in the pace of home sales in Virginia , the median sales prices in Virginia also increased. The median sales price in October 2012 ($235,000) marks a 9% increase from one year earlier ($215,000), and a 2% increase from two years ago ($229,900).

It is typical in Virginia to see declines in median sales price between July and January, so we should expect to see median prices continue to decline during through the fall and winter months. Despite these seasonal declines, the increased pace of buyer activity is certainly helping to provide further stabilization and growth in median sales prices.

Furthermore…

  • Virginia’s total sales volume increased 17% in October 2012
  • Virginia’s average days on market decreased 12% in October 2012

Read more inside the complete October 2012 Virginia Home Sales Report.

Virginia Launches The LINCOLN Movie Trail

-Spielberg’s biopic LINCOLN is the subject of a new trail that connects film sites, restaurants and shops in Richmond and Petersburg-

The worlds of movie magic and travel are set to come together in Virginia with the launch of The LINCOLN Movie Trail.  LINCOLN, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, opens today nationwide.  The movie was filmed 100 percent in Virginia at sites in Richmond and Petersburg.  The state tourism office has created a self-guided trail and interactive Web site to help movie and history buffs visit actual film locations that are open for visitors as well as restaurants, bars and shops that were favorites of the stars.  The trail experience includes special LINCOLN tours by Segway and guided walking tours.The worlds of movie magic and travel are set to come together in Virginia with the launch of The LINCOLN Movie Trail.  LINCOLN, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, opens today nationwide.  The movie was filmed 100 percent in Virginia at sites in Richmond and Petersburg.  The state tourism office has created a self-guided trail and interactive Web site to help movie and history buffs visit actual film locations that are open for visitors as well as restaurants, bars and shops that were favorites of the stars.  The trail experience includes special LINCOLN tours by Segway and guided walking tours.

Notable film locations that are open for visitors include the Virginia State Capitol, historic downtown Petersburg and the Empire Theater. Each participating trail site is marked with an iconic "LINCOLN was Here" graphic, with more information online about each site’s connection to the movie.  An interactive trail map as well as LINCOLN travel packages, special offers and unique guided tours are on www.Virginia.org/LINCOLN.

Online visitors can also learn about historic sites in Virginia where President Lincoln himself visited during the Civil War.  The online trip planner will help build a personalized itinerary complete with museums, restaurants and lodging options.

VOTE

It’s Election Day.
imageThe ads have all run. The debates were over weeks ago. There’s no more mail coming to your door. Now, the 2012 election is up to you.
This morning, I’m asking you to please, first and foremost, vote. It is a sacred duty, one protected by generations of American men and women who have laid down their lives to preserve our freedom. No matter what you have planned for today, please, take the time to vote. Our democracy depends upon your participation.

Williamsburg not ranked among Money’s Best Places to Live in Virginia

imageWhy isn’t Williamsburg on this list ?

Well, it seems that we don’t fit the parameters from a population standpoint.

This week, CNN Money Magazine published their annual list of “America’s Best Small Cities. Four Virginia communities were ranked among Money magazine’s Best Places to Live.

The annual list of 100 small cities includes: No. 7 Reston, No. 17 Centreville, No. 45 Arlington and No. 46 Dale City.

The ranking is based on factors such as median family income, job growth, school test scores, crime rates, weather and amenities such as a high concentration of restaurants.

Money’s top 10 cities are: Carmel, Ind.; McKinney, Texas; Eden Prairie, Minn.; Newton, Mass.; Redmond, Wash.; Irvine, Calif.; Reston; Columbia/Ellicott City, Md.;  Overland Park, Kan.; and Chapel Hill, N.C.

CNN Money creates their rankings using a variety of community metrics and data sources within financial, quality of life and housing criteria

The average city on the Best Places list had: a median family income of $96,825; job growth of 25 percent since 2000; a median home price of $269,768; 3,134 restaurants within a 15-mile radius; and a median age of 35.

CNN Money released twelve lists this year, including “Best Places to Live,” “Where the Jobs Are,” “Top Earning Towns,” “Hotspots for the Rich and Single,” “Where Homes Area Affordable,” as well as lists for commute times and climate.

See the full list here

Is Virginia Beach about to get the states first professional sports team*?

Is Virginia Beach about to get the states first professional sports team*?

Answer: maybe!

According to Inside Business, The Hampton Roads Business Journal, the Sacramento Kings, an NBA franchise, are in talks to move the team to Virginia Beach.

From the article

The owners of the Sacramento Kings, an NBA franchise, and officials from Philadelphia-based Comcast- are expected to be in Virginia Beach Tuesday to propose moving the team to the resort city and for Comcast to help build and lease a new pro sports arena.

A deal between the Maloof family, which owns the Sacramento Kings, and the city of Sacramento for a $391 million entertainment complex fell apart three months ago and it has been reported that the owners are looking for a city for their franchise.

Read the full story here.

Fixed mortgage interest rates continue to climb

Fixed mortgage interest rates have risen for the third straight week, according to McLean-based Freddie Mac.

This marks the third straight week of  mortgage rates moving higher. reversing a trend  of  record lows for 13 of 14 weeks.

Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for this week showed:

• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages (FRM) averaged 3.62 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending Aug. 16, up from last week when it averaged 3.59 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.15 percent. 

• 15-year FRM this week averaged 2.88 percent with an average 0.6 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.84 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.36 percent.

The latest economic indicators point toward low inflation but gradually stronger economic activity which placed further upward pressure on long-term Treasury yields and, in turn, fixed mortgage rates,” Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac, said in a statement. “For example, inflation remains in check with 12-month growth in the core consumer price index falling for a second month to 2.1 percent in July. At the same time, industrial production rose 0.6 percent in July compared to a 0.1 percent increase in June and retail sales jumped 0.8 percent in July from a 0.7 percent decline in June.“

Martins Tour of Richmond-Cycling Event

imageThe first annual Martin’s Tour of Richmond is just that — a cycling tour of Richmond. This fully-timed Gran Fondo event has distance options for both the serious rider and the weekend warrior.

What is a Gran Fondo? “Gran Fondo” means “Big Ride” in Italian. Gran Fondos are long distance, mass-participation cycling events – not races – that are immensely popular in Italy. Participation is open to recreational and competitive amateur cyclists. All abilities are welcome! Some cyclists enter for the challenge and satisfaction of making it to the finish line; others want to push themselves and their friends!

Choose the full 102-mile Gran Fondo or the shorter 59-mile or 29-mile distances. Plan on joining us for the entire day because we’ll celebrate your accomplishment with a big ol’ feast (including BEER!) at the Richmond Raceway Complex afterwards! Sign up now and beat the August 16th price increase!

Find out more here

WHEN

Sat, October 06, 2012

WHERE

Richmond Raceway Complex
600 East Laburnum Avenue
Richmond, VA 23222