The Price Is Right

Could the real estate market finally make everyone happy?

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Will Virginia Beach and Hampton Roads housing prices continue to grow?Swindell advises looking at overall numbers for cities and neighborhoods and then comparing a specific house—either yours that you’re selling or the one you’d like to buy.

“How does it stack up? Are they the same, above or below?” she adds. “The answer to that question will help determine many things. One of the biggest is overall home values in a neighborhood. This should play a major role in a seller’s asking price and a buyer’s offer for a property.”

All of the numbers can feel overwhelming, but they can lead you to good decision.

“Numbers don’t lie, and it can help take a lot of the emotion out of the process,” says Swindell. “I always tell all my buyers and sellers, ‘I may not tell you what you want to hear, but I will tell you what you need to know to make an informed decision.’”

Buying freedom

A few factors could change everything for the real estate market in Hampton Roads: For example, will many distressed homes be placed for sale again this year? These are homes that might be sold for less than the owner needs to pay off the mortgage, and they can drive down median prices—even if the surrounding houses are in beautiful condition and are located in the “perfect” community. Last year through October, 29.5 percent of homes sold in Hampton Roads were distressed. That number was down from 33.8 percent the year before—but it’s still a big number. We must also think about the threat of sequestration, which as of our press time, remained a possibility. Will the government cut spending for so many people who support the military, and how will it affect our economy in Hampton Roads?

Ramon Breeden, Jr., chief executive officer of The Breeden Company, which owns 7,000 apartment units in Virginia and North Carolina, understands people wanting to own a home.

“It’s about pride,” he says.

However, he also understands how you usually have to stay in a home for five years to build equity, and that’s not always possible, especially in Hampton Roads where families with the military move every few years. Even if a fiveyear stay is possible after purchasing a home, its value could drop, like we saw a few years back.

Another option: Renting an apartment

The image of a small, dark lonely place isn’t what should pop to mind. Apartments and all they can offer have changed in the last decade. Many times, you can expect granite countertops and wood floors in your apartment and gathering places with pools, grills, TVs, game rooms and top-of-the-line workout rooms steps away.

“You don’t need to stay in your apartment,” says Breeden. “You have many options.”

And less work: No worries about taking care of the yard, or your furnace or air conditioning breaking down.

“You’re free,” Breeden stresses.

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