• 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

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.

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.

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.“

Va Beach Whole Foods to open in October 2012

Whole Foods Market but residents of Va Beach will be able to shop at their new Whole Foods earlier than expected. The  Virginia Beach store is now set to open on October 24th at 10 a.m, several months ahead of initial expectationsWhile Williamsburg VA still has no Whole Foods Market but residents of Va Beach will be able to shop at their new Whole Foods earlier than expected. The  Virginia Beach store is now set to open on October 24th at 10 a.m, several months ahead of initial expectations.

This is  the first Hampton Roads location for the popular grocer, known for its selection of specialty goods and organic and health products.

The closest Whole Foods store to Williamsburg at this time is in Richmond, in the Short Pump Area.

On opening day, the Va Beach  Whole Foods plans to provide free tastings, live music and cooking demonstrations, the company confirmed Thursday in a news release. The 40,000-square-foot store at 1800 Laskin Road will operate daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m

Amazon Local launches in Richmond VA

imageGroupon and Living Social be warned. Amazon has launched a daily deal coupon business in the Richmond  VA area

Amazon Local  Richmond launched last month and has offered discounts for a variety of local businesses

Amazon joins a crowded market of daily deal sites, including Groupon and LivingSocial and other small and local copycats. Both Groupon and LivingSocial went live in Richmond in 2010.

Amazon’s move comes amid signs that the once red-hot daily deal market might be cooling.

Costco now offering mortgages

First coffins now mortgages.

Costco shoppers  can now land themselves a mortgage.

After a year of testing, Costco is rolling out a full-service mortgage lending program on its website in partnership with First Choice Bank, a New Jersey-based community bank, and 10 other lenders. .

Costco’s partners have issued more than 10,000 mortgages to members under the program

Mortgages are just one of several financial products available to Costco’s members. The warehouse club also offers health and auto insurance, as well as stock brokerage services.

Up next: Auto loans and student loans.

Costco had started offering mortgages a couple of years ago but the service provider it was using didn’t share enough details about how it was dealing with Costco’s members, so Costco started over from scratch, partnering with First Choice Bank to build a new mortgage lending portal.

Much like LendingTree, the site gathers quotes from various lenders. However, there is one key difference. Under the Costco program, the borrower’s identity is revealed only after they officially select the lender.

With many other lead-generation sites, the consumer fills out an application and any lender can make an offer and begin sending marketing communications to the applicant without restrictions.

Costco members will still need to do their homework and compare offers, though,

First Choice said it will police the other lenders to ensure they comply with Costco’s policies, which include giving accurate rates and terms and following up quickly on questions and requests. The technology enables Costco to monitor individual applications and make sure they are handled properly and expeditiously.

Costco takes no profit on the lending itself, but it does get paid to market the service.

Virginia Continues to Lead the Way in Job Growth and Economic Competitiveness

Virginia was ranked as the third-best state in the country for its economic outlook in a report released Thursday by the American Legislative Exchange Council. In its fifth edition of “Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index ” Virginia outperformed other states on economic policy based on a ranking that uses 15 equally-weighted variables in the areas of tax, labor, and regulatory policy.

 The report, authored by world-renowned economist  Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, senior economics writer at The Wall Street Journal, and Jonathan Williams, director of ALEC’s Center for State Fiscal Reform, shows Virginia outperforming other states on economic competitiveness and economic policy.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is one of the best states in the nation to do business, ranking 3rd best in the economic outlook ranking. The authors of the report show how taxpayers “vote with their feet and dollars,” by migrating away from high tax states, and moving into low tax states, such as Virginia.

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VA. moving closer to installing America’s first offshore wind turbine

imageThe Virginia Marine Resources Commission has voted  to approve proposed construction of a 479-foot-tall, five-megawatt wind turbine generator prototype in the lower Chesapeake Bay, three miles off the Eastern Shore town of Cape Charles. The construction of the prototype turbine is scheduled to be completed in late 2013, which would be before other offshore wind energy projects are slated to be built in other parts of the country. This prototype is a significant step forward in Governor Bob McDonnell’s goal to pursue an "all of the above" energy approach including wind, coal, nuclear, oil, and renewable energy projects making Virginia the energy capital of the East Coast. The project now requires approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and review by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The proposal was submitted by Gamesa Energy USA, which is partnering with Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding, to develop and test new offshore wind technologies that will reduce the cost of wind power.

"This is an important next step in developing all of Virginia’s domestic energy resources to help power our nation’s economy and puts Virginia at the forefront of clean energy technology development,’ said Governor McDonnell. "This step forward holds tremendous potential for jobs and for economic development here in the future. Virginia’s unique and efficient permitting process adopted for small energy projects like this one was a critical factor in Gamesa’s choice of Virginia as the location for this U.S. wind energy operation, and today we see the fruit of these proactive policies."

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Virginia , Named Best State To Make A Living

imageMoneyRates.com has ranked Virginia the “Best State to Make a Living” in its annual study. Virginia jumped up from fourth place in 2011 to take the top spot in 2012 based on measurements in the four categories considered by MoneyRates.com: Average Income, which has increased over the past year; Cost of Living based on ACCRA Cost of Living Index, which slightly decreased; Unemployment Rate, which has decreased in Virginia; and State Income Tax, which has not increased under the McDonnell administration.

From the report:

1. Virginia (Adjusted average income: $43,677)

In jumping from fourth to first, Virginia improved its adjusted average income figure by $2,557. This year, Virginia enjoyed a best-of-both-worlds scenario in which its average income rose while its cost of living fell slightly. The state also saw its unemployment rate drop to 6.2* percent, which is well below the national average.

*While the report is impressed by Virginia’s previous drop to 6.2 percent unemployment, the new seasonally adjusted unemployment figures for January released just last week show an even greater drop in the state to 5.8 percent, a three-year low.

The rest of the top five included Washington, Texas, Illinois and Colorado. The ranking determined that Hawaii was the worst state to make a living, followed by Maine, Vermont, Mississippi and Montana.

Dominion Power Wants To Lease The Entire Ocean Off The Coast Of Virginia

Dominion Virginia Power told the federal government today that it is interested in obtaining leases off the Virginia coast in an area that has the potential to generate approximately 1,500-2,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines. The exact capacity would be dependent on detailed site investigations.

Dominion Virginia Power told the federal government today that it is interested in obtaining leases off the Virginia coast in an area that has the potential to generate approximately 1,500-2,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind turbines. The exact capacity would be dependent on detailed site investigations.Dominion expressed its interest in the entire 113,000 acres the government is making available approximately 24 miles off the Virginia coast in its response to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)’s Call for Information and Nominations that was issued Feb. 3.

"Offshore wind generation holds great promise in the long term as a scalable source of emissions-free renewable electricity," said Mary C. Doswell, executive vice president-Alternative Energy Solutions. "Virginia is well positioned to accommodate offshore wind with the existing electric grid and world-class port facilities in Hampton Roads. The challenge remains the high cost of building this generation and bringing it to customers."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects the cost of offshore wind generation in 2016 at approximately 24 cents per kilowatt-hour generated. This is a significant premium over the 7.3 cents per kilowatt-hour that comprise the generation portion of Dominion Virginia Power’s residential rate today of about 10.9 cents per kilowatt-hour. 

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Redskins consider Richmond for preseason training

News that will make my two teenage boys excited !

The Washington Redskins confirmed Wednesday that the team is looking at Richmond as a possible site for its summer preseason training camp.

The three-week camp would involve more than 150 people, including about 90 players and prospects, as well as coaches, trainers and other support staff, said Eric J. Finkbeiner, a Richmond lawyer acting as local consultant to the Redskins.

A National Football League summer training camp generally has an economic impact of more than $5 million on the surrounding community, said Finkbeiner, former policy director for Gov. Bob McDonnell and currently a lawyer at McGuireWoods and its consulting arm.

Read the full article here.

First Lady Of VA @ Williamsburg Winery Promoting VA Wine

imageWhen most think of Virginia, wine is one of the last things to come to mind, but Williamsburg Winery and other wineries across the state are hoping to change that.

"Our goal is to promote tourism, the opportunity for people to experiment and taste different wines from different wineries and match that with great food from Virginia," said Patrick Duffeler, founder of the Williamsburg Winery .

From humble beginnings, The Williamsburg Winery has experienced continuous growth through an expanding portfolio of wines.  The introduction of our 2007 Adagio is, for the moment, the culmination of a single-minded goal to produce the highest quality wines in the world. Noted wine educator Kevin Zraly has opined that The Williamsburg Winery makes "some of the best wines in the world'. Duffeler and Virginia’s First Lady Maureen McDonnell are promoting " Love by the Glass ," Virginia’s first wine week.

"Virginia, over the most recent decades, is receiving global recognition. We’re beating out California in a lot of our competitions and receiving acknowledgements at the great wine industry fairs that are over in Europe," McDonnell said.

From Cabernet Sauvignon to White Zinfandel, people are raising their glasses and realizing that Virginia has a lot to offer in the wine making industry.

When vines, like the ones at the Williamsburg Winery, bear fruit in the coming months, they’ll bring the state more than meets the eye – or the lips.

During Wednesday’s event Williamsburg Winery owner Patrick Duffeler introduced the  Colonial Virginia Wine Trail, which features Williamsburg Winery,  Saudee Creek Vineyard,   New Kent Winery and James River Cellars.

Listed below are  the other wineries that participated in the FLITE visit:

Ingleside Vineyards is located in Oak Grove on Virginia’s Northern Neck.

Chatham Vineyards is located in Machipongo on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. 

March is Virginia Wine & Dine Month! Billed as “a celebration to showcase Virginia wines at restaurants and wine shops across the Commonwealth”, the Virginia Wine Board has organized a wonderfully diverse group of merchants, restaurateurs, and of course our favorite winemakers to throw a month-long party highlighting the fine wines of Virginia.

Love by the Glass, Virginia Wine and Dine Month, highlights Virginia wines and great culinary dishes together at more than 300 participating restaurants and wine shops across the state. Virginia's wine week, Participating restaurants  will add at least two Virginia wines to their menus in celebration.Love by the Glass, Virginia Wine and Dine Month, highlights Virginia wines and great culinary dishes together at more than 300 participating restaurants and wine shops across the state. Virginia’s wine week, Participating restaurants  will add at least two Virginia wines to their menus in celebration.

search www.VirginiaWine.org to find participating businesses across the state.

Virginia is home to more than 155 wineries across the state in nine different wine producing regions. The state is getting national recognition for several varietals including Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot; and it is producing a growing variety of wines quickly gaining a loyal following including Bordeaux styles blends, sparkling wines and the native varietal Norton. Virginia was named one of the top five up-and-coming wine destinations by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2007.

For more information on "Love by the Glass" click here .

FHA Loan Fees Increasing

FHA-backed loans, which help make home ownership attainable for many Americans, will get pricier in about a month.

In order to boost their dwindling capital reserves, the Federal Housing Administration announced on Monday that they will adjust their premium structure for FHA-insured mortgage loans.

Starting on April 1st, the upfront insurance premiums will rise from 1 percent to 1.75 percent of the base loan amount. FHA’s annual mortgage premium will also increase, by 0.10 percent for loans under $625,000 and 0.35 percent for amounts above that.

For a $300,000 loan, the new premium “works out to $5,250, up from $3,000, but because homebuyers are allowed to finance the upfront insurance premium into the balance of their mortgages, officials said the sticker shock from the higher fees would be relatively modest, provided that borrowers can qualify for a slightly larger loan.

On a loan amount of $300,000, we are seeing an increased payment of $35.42, which doesn’t sound too bad. However, many home buyers buy homes comparing what their monthly payment will be after they close. This hike in payment is equivalent to borrowing an additional $7000.

Starting next month, it’s as if the home became $7000 more expensive. What is the result? Buyers are going to have to pay more OR they’re going to have to offer less to the seller (to maintain the same mortgage payment they were comfortable with today). A $7000 lower offer is like another 2.5% decline of home prices. Not good for anyone.

Federal Agency Will Sell Foreclosed Homes to Investors for Rentals

The Federal Housing Finance Agency will begin inviting bids from investors to buy packages of foreclosed properties to be offered as rentals.

The agency today said it will send detailed information to investors who qualify to participate in the bulk-sales pilot program. About 2,500 foreclosure homes will be marketed in Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and parts of Florida, according to a statement posted by the agency on its website today.

With this next step, prequalified investors will be able to submit applications to demonstrate their financial capacity, experience and specific plans for purchasing pools of Fannie Mae foreclosed properties with the requirement to rent the purchased properties for a specified number of years.

Structured Sales – Investor Pre-Qualification Process

Joint venture transactions are expected to allow qualified investors to purchase a controlling equity interest in a newly formed investment vehicle created to hold multiple properties in one transaction. The qualified investor would be responsible for the management and servicing of the assets, and would be an equity partner with Fannie Mae. Pools may be national, regional, or geographically focused, subject to post-closing asset management strategies and restrictions, and consist of vacant and / or occupied (including rented) properties. Sales of controlling equity interests will be limited to qualified investors.

If you are a prospective investor interested in receiving information regarding structured sales composed of Fannie Mae single family real estate owned assets, you will be required to meet certain minimum criteria to be Pre-Qualified. Once you are Pre-Qualified, you will be eligible to receive information regarding an actual proposed transaction if and when such information becomes available. The process to be Pre-Qualified is described below.

Pre-Qualification Process

Prospective investors must fill-out the Contact Information Form  as well as download and complete the Pre-Qualification Request Form. Once completed, the Pre-Qualification Request Form must be submitted to the email address on the form.

Fannie Mae, after review of both completed forms, will notify prospective investors whether they have been Pre-Qualified.

Questions may also be submitted using the Contact Information Form

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The Ups and Downs of Foreclosure Filings in the US

This chart shows the total number of foreclosures in the U.S. over the past five years. Among other things, it illustrates why looking at weekly foreclosure numbers isn’t helpful — there are ups and downs all the time; you need to look at all the overall picture to see long term trends.

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Click to enlarge, or go play with the interactive version over at Bloomberg.

You can search foreclosed , bank-owned homes/ REO in all of Hampton Roads VA with the links below. No registration required.  FREE

Search Chesapeake VA Foreclosures

Search Hampton , Newport News Foreclosures

Search Isle of Wight Foreclosures

Search Norfolk Foreclosures

Search Poquoson Foreclosures

Search Portsmouth Foreclosures

Search Smithfield Foreclosures

Search Suffolk Foreclosures

Search VA Beach Foreclosures

Search Williamsburg Foreclosures

Search Yorktown Foreclosures

Tax loophole for Amazon in Virginia is closed

Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, have won a major battle.  Amazon has agreed to collect and pay sales tax on purchases made to Virginians.Traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, have won a major battle.  Amazon has agreed to collect and pay sales tax on purchases made to Virginians.

Governor Bob McDonnell announced  that an agreement has been reached between his office, Amazon, several members of the General Assembly,and brick and mortar retailers, to close the tax loophole.

The agreement negotiated with Amazon requires certain online retailers to collect the sales and use tax in the same manner as a bricks and mortar retailer. 

Amazon has faced major  criticism from Virginia and federal officials for not paying state sales taxes. Other states have recently  passed laws requiring the payments.  Governor McDonnell had announced in December that Amazon would be opening two fulfillment centers in Virginia, investing a total of $135 million and creating more than 1,350 jobs. 

McDonnell said the new tax legislation will “help to ensure that online retailers with a physical presence in Virginia are treated the same as traditional brick and mortar retailers who are already required to collect and remit existing sales taxes on goods sold in the Commonwealth."

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National Housing Starts Rise 1.5 Percent from Upwardly Revised Numbers in January

Building on significant upward revisions to numbers for the previous two months, nationwide production of new single-family homes and apartments increased 1.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 700,000 units in January, according to newly released figures from the U.S. Commerce Department.

This marks the second-best pace of overall housing production since October of 2008.
“Today’s solid housing starts report indicates that builders are putting more of their crews back to work, and adds to the growing field of evidence that the overall housing market is gradually but consistently moving in the right direction,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. In addition to today’s numbers, recent builder surveys have indicated steadily increasing optimism regarding market conditions while the number of improving housing markets nationwide has grown substantially over the past six months, he noted.
The fact that the three-month moving average for housing starts has now increased for nine consecutive months and is approaching the 700,000 mark for the first time since October of 2008 is indicative of a solid recovery in housing activity stemming from recent firming in employment and consumer confidence measures,” agreed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “That said, housing production is still far from what would be considered normal in a healthy market, and many challenges remain for home builders in terms of tight credit conditions, difficult appraisals and the continued flow of foreclosed properties on the market – all of which are certainly slowing the pace of improvement in both housing and the overall economy.”

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VA Real Estate Statistics 2011

The Virginia Association of Realtors® released its 2011  Housing Report today including housing market data, trends, and comparisons. The Virginia Association of Realtors® released its 2011  Housing Report today including housing market data, trends, and comparisons.

Even if you’re not in real estate, the report is packed with articles written by some of the most esteemed experts in the industry. Their informative reviews of the past year and educated predictions on what 2012 will bring should be of interest to any home owner given what we’ve all experienced in recent years! It’s been a challenging couple of years, but VAR’s analysts say that things like low interest rates and affordable home prices could make this year’s progress more significant that last year’s.

As VAR’s website points out:
“That’s just the numbers. It’s easy to forget that there are people behind that data. There are families who can finally afford a dream home, who can move to a better school district, or can refinance to stay afloat.  There are people wondering when they’ll be able to sell their homes, and who have taken the leap into buying their first.

Take them into account as you read through this report:  Virginia’s homes and families, communities and jobs- the lives that are more than dots on a chart or entries in a table.  These are pictures of homes, struggles, and celebration and our springboard into 2012.

The median home price in the state fell 3.3 percent to $225,000 and the volume of sales remained essentially flat, up .2 percent, in 2011, compared to a year ago, according to the report.

“We’d like to think we’ll look back at 2011 as the year things finally began to turn around,” the introduction of the report begins. “We might not be ready to say that Virginia’s markets are out of the woods, but in 2011 — without artificial stimulus — we were able to see significant improvement.”

The report looks at each part of the state, with some interesting data points:

  • Northern Virginia’s median sale price rose 1.6 percent to $315,000 from $309,900. Homes priced between $750,000 and $1 million were the bright spot — with a 3.64 percent increase in sales.
  • But the big winner was the category for homes priced under $100,000 in the state — they saw 33 percent increase in sales, pointing to likely sales of foreclosures.
  • The Central Valley regions experienced the greatest increase in sales and the Northern Virginia region experienced the only decline.
  • Median home prices have declined in both Virginia and the U.S. over the past year, although Virginia’s median sales price remains above our nation’s.
  • American housing timeline:  see decade by decade beginning in 1930, what major political and cultural events have shaped and built American housing.  Note the effect these events had on interest rates throughout the timeline.

Market Snapshots from regions around the state

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WHAT DOES WARREN BUFFET THINK ABOUT BUYING A HOME?

Warren Buffet is seen by many as the greatest investor of our time. When he speaks, people listen. Like anyone else in his position of influence, he is criticized by some for using his bullhorn to promote his own business agendas at times. That makes it very interesting when we occasionally learn of how he privately advises those closest to him.

Such a situation occurred this week. Debbie Bosanek, Warren Buffet’s secretary of 37 years, recently purchased a second home in Surprise, Arizona.

In an article in the Omaha World Herald, Mrs. Bosanek discussed her reasons for purchasing a second home and the personal advice she received from Mr. Buffet.

“I just thought it was time to buy a home. Warren tells me that it will be the best opportunity in my lifetime. Mortgage rates are low and prices have dropped dramatically…I share Warren’s view about the future of America, and we believe that our country will do just fine. I’m happy to make this investment.”

The greatest investor of the last century privately has told the people closest to him that buying a home right now will be the best opportunity in [their] lifetime”

The Obama refinance plan

Trying to fully understand  President Obama’s mortgage refinance plan ?

Essentially, the plan the President outlined will allow any borrower to refinance through the FHA if they meet the qualifications.

Here’s a rundown on some of the major details of the plan, which the President  first announced in his State of the Union message. One major sticking point: the program must still be approved by Congress before it can take effect, which is a big if.

KEY POINTS

1. It’s only available to responsible borrowers – those who are current on their mortgages for at least six months, haven’t missed a payment in a year, and have reasonable credit (a FICO score of at least 580).  Aside from that, the other credit requirement is that borrowers must not have missed a mortgage payment in the past six months or more than one in the past 12.

2- Available on most mortgages –One of the key elements of the new underwater mortgage refinancing plan is that it will be available on most types of mortgages,but is has to be within the FHA’s conforming loan limits. ( in our area that’s $458,850)

3. If borrowers owe more than 140 percent of the value of their home, the lender has to agree to reduce the loan balance. The White House also said Tuesday it wants to help banks that want to refinance those deep-underwater borrowers.

4 – Streamlined refis on Fannie, Freddie loans- Homeowners with a Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-backed mortgage (which most residential mortgages are) will be able to take advantage of a streamlined application process, where they will not have to have their property appraised or document their income in order to qualify. They will, however, have to show that they are currently employed.

5 – No closing costs on short-term refis- The proposal calls for waiving closing costs for underwater borrowers who choose to rebuild equity quickly by refinancing into a mortgage with a term of less than 20 years. The administration estimates this would enable most underwater borrowers to get back into positive equity within five years.

 

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Amazon to open distribution centers near Richmond VA but will not collect VA taxes

Amazon announced plans to open two distribution centers in Chesterfield and Dinwiddie counties.

The centers will open next Fall inside the Meadowville Technology Park  in Chesterfield and the Dinwiddie Commerce Park in Dinwiddie. The centers would combine to create 1,350 new jobs.

Amazon is investing $85 million on a Chesterfield facility, which will create more than 1,000 jobs, and $50 million in Dinwiddie, creating more than 350 jobs.

“We’re grateful to Governor McDonnell and other state, county and local officials for their commitment to our investment in Virginia,” Dave Clarke, vice president of Amazon North American Operations, said in a statement.

The localities were chosen because of the area’s work force and the speed that the facilities can be built, said Jim Cheng, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. The centers are expected to be completed this fall.

Gov. Bob McDonnell approved $3.5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to help the localities with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $850,000 for the Dinwiddie project.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Chesterfield County, Dinwiddie County, the Greater Richmond Partnership, and Virginia’s Gateway Region to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McDonnell approved a total of $3.5 million in grants from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist both Chesterfield County and Dinwiddie County with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission approved $850,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds for the Dinwiddie County project. The company is eligible to receive benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the company’s recruitment and training activities.
"We are so pleased that international Internet giant Amazon has selected Chesterfield County for their new one million-square-foot fulfillment center," said Art Warren, the Chairman of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors. "It is exciting this outstanding announcement coincides with the opening of the new Meadowville interchange which will benefit everyone, present and future. And, the infrastructure surrounding this announcement further positions the Meadowville technology Park as a key destination for business. Welcome Amazon as the newest member of our corporate family."
“Dinwiddie County is extremely pleased with Amazon’s decision to locate a fulfillment center in the Dinwiddie Commerce Park,” said Doretha E. Moody, Chairman of the Dinwiddie County Board of Supervisors. “This is an excellent example of the commitment of the Board of Supervisors to economic development and creating employment opportunities for our community.”
"The Tobacco Commission is glad that we were able to team up with Dinwiddie and the Governor’s Office to attract Amazon to Virginia,” said Senator Frank M. Ruff, Jr., a Commissioner of The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. “We believe that they will be a good employer and a good corporate citizen that will provide good jobs for the region. We believe that Amazon will be pleased with our workforce and the region."

The Seattle, Washington-based company employs more than 40,000 people worldwide.

Location map below

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Thursday’s announcements follow an agreement between Amazon and Tennessee over the collection of sales taxes. The retailer would start collecting Tennessee sales taxes in 2014. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon officials in October announced the agreement for the company to begin collecting the state’s sales tax on items sold to customers in Tennessee.

Amazon was originally granted an indefinite waiver on collecting state sales taxes in Tn. as part of a deal struck by Haslam’s Democratic predecessor, Phil Bredesen, that led the company to build its first two distribution centers in Tennessee earlier this year.

Amazon has fought with several states over Internet sales tax collection as cash-strapped state governments grapple with how to capture the sales tax revenues that go uncollected from online purchases. In some cases, the online retailer severed ties with affiliates in states that passed laws in an attempt to collect sales tax.

Virginia law requires a retailer to collect and remit the state’s 5 percent sales taxes if it "maintains or has within this commonwealth, directly or through an agent or subsidiary, an office, warehouse, or place of business of any nature." Despite the distribution center it already has in the state, however, Amazon has operated under an exemption to that law and does not include sales tax on purchases made in Virginia.

In response to the Amazon project announced Thursday, the Virginia Retail Federation  released a statement calling for Virginia leaders to level the playing field between Amazon and brick-and-mortar merchants.

"The Virginia Retail Federation assumes that Amazon has agreed to collect state sales tax in Virginia now that they will unquestionably have a physical presence in the state," said Ray Mattes, president and CEO of Retail Alliance, in the federation’s statement. The alliance represents Hampton Roads retailers and is part of the federation.

But state officials said Thursday that Amazon won’t have to pay sales taxes after it builds the new warehouses, either, because the facilities are being built and operated by a separate distribution company, not the actual retail business.

"This was solely about jobs and economic development here," said McDonnell, calling the sales tax issue a discussion for "another time."

Congress might ultimately settle the matter. Pending federal legislation would require large online retailers to collect taxes on purchases regardless of where those retailers are based or where they have a physical presence.

Governor McDonnell Announces 800 New Jobs in Isle of Wight County –Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to invest $180 million in first Virginia operation

imageGovernor Bob McDonnell today announced that Vermont-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters , a leader in specialty coffee and coffeemakers, will establish a production and distribution facility in Isle of Wight County, Virginia. The company will invest $180 million over the initial five-years of the facility’s operations. GMCR has agreed to purchase a 330,000-square-foot building on a 64 acre parcel of land in Isle of Wight County, where it expects to house coffee roasting, grinding, flavoring, and packaging of its single-serve portion packs for its Keurig® Single-Cup Brewing System. Within five years, it is estimated the new facility will have as many as 800 employees.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Isle of Wight County to secure the project for Virginia. The Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance was instrumental in the project. Governor McDonnell approved a $4 million grant from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund to assist Isle of Wight County with the project. GMCR may be eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. In addition, through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program, the Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide funding and services to support the Company’s recruitment and training activities.          

"This announcement is confirmation to the citizens of Isle of Wight that our investments in real estate and infrastructure for the Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park are beginning to pay off as we welcome significant advanced manufacturing projects to our community," said Isle of Wight County Chairman Thomas J. Wright, III. "The rewards will be realized for generations to come."

Does Virginia Owe You Money ?

imageEach year, the Virginia  Division of Unclaimed Property In Virginia collects lost assets that  include closed bank accounts, lost or uncashed checks, abandoned life insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, and unclaimed stock and dividends. financial assets and abandoned items from financial institutions (banks, insurance companies, the IRS, etc.) and from deposit boxes and police evidence rooms, respectively.

According to spokeswoman Brooke Bredel, 1 in every 7 people in the State has Virginia unclaimed money in their name. Last year, the Virginia Treasury Department’s Unclaimed Property Division took in more than $124 million in cash, stock, and other tangible and intangible property. It returned about $41 million to persons who could establish a legitimate claim.

What is not returned gets deposited into the state’s Literary Fund, which provides low-interest loans for school construction, grants for school technology equipment and support for the state’s share of teacher retirement.

The department contributed about $75 million to the fund last year, making it the fund’s largest contributor. The Literary Fund also receives money from unclaimed lottery winnings and from assorted fines and fees paid to the state. Total receipts last year were $233 million.

In a search for my own name I just discovered I am owed money, same for my in laws, don’t know how much but a nice surprise in any case, kind of like finding money in your pants pocket after you do the laundry,

You can conduct your own search on the State’s searchable website, at www.VaMoneySearch.org,

Wind Turbines To Start Spinning on VA Eastern Shore

imageWind turbines towering as high as 750 feet will soon be seen along Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Poseidon Atlantic LLC . a joint venture between Real NewEnergy, a renewable-energy technology firm based in Rockville, Md., and Ecofys, a subsidiary of the Dutch utility company Eneco. plans to build one of the first testing facilities for offshore wind turbines in Northampton County, Virginia

Construction is to begin  by mid- to late-2012. The site, which could employ as many as 25 workers in the coming years, will serve as a test-and-certification facility for both land-based and offshore wind turbines.

Poseidon hopes to attract several wind turbine manufacturers to the facility, which will be able to accommodate eight to 10 turbines. Wind turbines could be erected as early as the beginning of 2013, each one able to produce between one and 10 megawatts of electricity, according to a news release.

imageThe companies likened the future testing facility to a 50-megawatt wind farm, costing as much as $120 million.

The state has high hopes for spurring wind energy development off the coast.

"If this industry takes root and matures, we could create thousands of new jobs in manufacturing, construction, logistics, operations and maintenance activities," Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said in the news release. "Many of these jobs are skilled positions with very competitive wages and benefits, and they would produce a sustained and long-term economic benefit for Virginia."

The Virginia Department of Mines and Minerals plans to give Poseidon $750,000 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to help study the project’s feasibility.

Four Va. cities named as top-20 housing markets in US

Twice annually, Builder Magazine puts out a list of the healthiest housing markets in the United States, based on projections that drive housing production–jobs, price appreciation, population growth, and income growth. The projections come from Moody’s Economy.com.

Earlier this year, markets in Texas and the Carolinas dominated the list looking at 2011 market-level forecasts, thanks to growth in the oil economy in the case of Texas, and strong population growth in the case of the Carolinas. Both regions also had on their side a recovery in home prices as they worked through foreclosure issues.

Economic conditions in the oil patch aren’t quite as favorable today. And some bloom has come off the rose in the Carolinas, where home prices in some markets have double-dipped. As a result, our forward-looking view of the 20 healthiest markets is a little different today.

Rising home prices, job gains, and improvement in median incomes will drive the healthiest markets over the next year and a half. Moody’s projects that permit activity may double in some of the very hottest of these markets, as the long-awaited housing recovery takes hold.

Markets that benefit from military spending, or major universities, once again crowd the top of our list. Some markets hit the trifecta with military bases, big universities, and strong private sector employment. But several of the state capitals that appeared on previous versions of the list have dropped to the bottom due to fiscal problems that resulted in layoffs.

Four Virginia regions were named  as being in the country’s top 20 housing markets: Charlottesville (#6), Virginia Beach (#12), the Washington DC area (#14), and Richmond (#15).

#6: Charlottesville, Va.

Charlottesville isn’t a very big housing market, but it’s a pretty strong one. Home to the University of Virginia, the region has benefited from some strong household growth in recent years. It continues to attract second-home buyers from Washington, D.C.

Bargains are tough to come by in Charlottesville, where the median home price in August stood just below $300,000, according to local real estate agent reports. Though prices are down so far this year, Moody’s expects them to rise 1% next year.

The region has had some strong household growth in recent years, a trend expected to continue through 2012. It will also benefit from strong growth in median income–3.7%.

#12: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va. ( Hampton Roads)

Virginia Beach is slated to have some of the strongest home price appreciation (4.3%) and income growth (4.7%) during the next year and a half.

Home prices will stabilize this year and rise slightly over the next two. Building permits levels were buttressed by a big increase in multifamily. But single-family will be the engine for robust permit growth over the next two years.

The Norfolk Naval Station employs 64,000. Virginia Beach has a low unemployment rate of only 7.1%. But cutbacks in military spending have been weakening the economy.

#13: Washington DC-Arlington-Alexandria, Va.-Md.-

The second biggest market on our list after Houston, Washington, D.C. has been one of the best housing markets for the last two years, though most local builders will tell you the market took a small step backward this year. In fact, if you look at what has happened to prices, it has double-dipped.

Median home prices rose 5% in 2010, but are on track to give it all back this year. D.C. remains one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, with a median price of about $325,000, well below the peak of $458,000 in 2007.

#15: Richmond, Va.

Median home prices in Richmond, the capital of Virginia and home to several major universities, have been very stable throughout the housing recession. From a peak of $230,000 in 2007, they have fallen only to roughly $203,000 this year.

An unemployment rate of only 7.1% provides a partial explanation. Richmond has two nearby military bases, Fort Lee and Dahlgren AFB. Three of its seven major employers are health care providers. Employment is expected to rise 1.8% next year.

Moody’s is projecting that total permit activity will nearly double next year. It is down this year, due to a drop off in multifamily permits. But the single-family sector, which historically accounts for about 80% of activity, has been stable.

The rest of the Top 20  markets featured in this article include Greeley, CO, Houston, TX, Austin, TX, Kennewick, WA, Lexington, KY, Richmond, VA, Milwaukee, WI, Washington, DC, Virginia Beach, VA, San Antonio, TX, Denver, CO, Bradenton, FL, Oklahoma City, OK, Colorado Springs, CO, Charlottesville, VA, Miami, FL, Jacksonville, FL, Salt Lake City, UT, Fort Collins, CO, and #1  Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.

Click here for the whole story and complete list from Builder Online.

Mortgage rates dip on Fed news

The average 30-year mortgage rate dipped to another all-time low this week in the wake of recent moves by the Federal Reserve.

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.01 percent this week, according to Freddie Mac. That was down 0.7 percentage point from last week and 4.32 percent a year ago.

The 15-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to an all-time low as well at 3.28 percent. That was also down 0.7 percentage point from last week and compared to an average 3.75 percent during the same week last year.

“Fixed mortgage rates fell to all-time record lows this week following the Federal Reserve’s announcement of its Maturity Extension Program and additional purchases of mortgage-backed securities,” Frank Nothaft, chief economist at the Federal Reserve, said in a statement.

Virginia Receives Preliminary Approval to Toll Interstate 95

Governor Bob McDonnell  announced that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has granted the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) preliminary approval for his administration’s plan to toll I-95

Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, "I-95 is one of the most important and heavily traveled highway corridors in the country, linking population and commercial centers up and down the East Coast. Limited funds and growing capital and maintenance needs have led to deficient pavements and structures, congestion, higher crash density and safety concerns. This approval is a major step toward funding critical capacity and infrastructure improvements needed in this corridor. The Commonwealth cannot continue to be a leader in economic development and job creation if we do not address our transportation needs. Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed my transportation plan setting the framework for investing $4 billion in our transportation network over the next three years. The ability to toll I-95 will help leverage this investment by funding transportation improvements in this vital corridor."

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