Friday, May 29, 2009

"It's All About the Prices" - A Sample of This Week's New Listings

We recently read a post on the Charlottesville Area Assoc. of Realtors blog by Realtor Greg Slater, entitled "It's All About the Inventory." Greg, with Real Estate III, serves as the CAAR President-Elect, and periodically sends data this way and offers commentary after posts.

Greg's post covered recent changes in how inventory is handled in the MLS system (new construction, proposed construction), but then went on to discuss inventory for the past few years. And he had thoughts about the "buyer's market."

He says:

Based on inventory levels, this market has been defined as a buyer’s market for quite some time now.

New Listings by Month
2006 2007 2008 2009
JAN 725 802 688 706
FEB 793 756 748 712
MAR 980 1027 801 702
APR 963 947 768 750

[We added for totals:
2006 - 3561
2007 - 3532
2008 - 3005
2009 - 2870
(the numbers are from 5/17)]

Back to Greg:

So what does all this mean?

We have always defined the market as buyer or seller’s based on the inventory and the number of months available.

With inventory levels remaining relatively constant now for over a year and sales levels (over $300k) still decreasing year over year, we may have to take the definition of “buyer’s market” a step further. It seems to me that our buyers and seller’s, in many cases, have opposing views of market value right now. Maybe this “buyer’s market” is better defined as a market in which the buyer’s opinion of value carries more weight than the sellers.

I think one of the challenges of pricing a home in this market is that buyers and sellers are using different methods to determine value. Many buyers (who believe prices are still coming down) want 2010 prices now. Many sellers think their home is still worth what it was in 2006. As REALTORS®, we need to help our sellers understand what buyers are focused on right now. And maybe just as importantly, help our buyers understand the reality of this market as well. There’s frustration on both sides of the negotiation and it’s our job to find the common ground.

[bolding and colors are the BB's]

So despite having a current inventory that's lower than that of 2008, sales for the region are down by 1/3 from 2008.

So of course you, savvy buyer, are saying: What's with the prices?

Especially when Greg says, "Maybe...the buyer's opinion of the market carries more weight than the sellrs."

The short answers are:
a. It's the season. There's a momentum.
b. People need houses.
c. Low interest rates (except as of today they're approaching 5.5% again).
d. First time buyer's tax credit of up to $8K.
e. Some prices have come down.

But:
a. There's a shadow inventory--short sales, foreclosures, FSBO's, people "waiting out the market."
b. Many sellers are unable to lower prices.
c. Buyers can wait longer than sellers.
d. The majority of this inventory will not sell, especially that above the $300K level.

Keeping in mind that "buyers' opinions carry more weight than sellers'", here's a sample of what's offered this particular week. 30 properties in Albemarle and 12 in Charlottesville came on the market in the past seven days ending May 28.

Albemarle: 1014 properties available
Of these, 716 are detached, single-family homes
Charlottesville: 352 properties available
Of these, 223 are detached, single-family homes

***

CHARLOTTESVILLE

MLS# 466009 - $319,000
Type: Condominiums
Address: 106 Melbourne Prk, #g
Approx. SqFt: 2,052 Acreage: 0.00
Bedrooms: 3 Year Built: 2006
Total Baths: 3 Full: 2 Half: 1

Owner Paid $295K 5/2008 $200K Drop from previous sale
Previous Owner: $488K 1/2007
Assessed: $297.4 - lower than asking

There are 57 condos priced between $200-300K in Charlottesville

***

MLS#: 465976 - $210,000
Address: 1620 Mulberry Ave
Approx. SqFt: 1,000 Acreage: 0.15
Bedrooms: 2 Year Built: 1940
Total Baths: 1 Full: 1 Half: 0

Owner paid: $106K in 2001 - $100K increase - expects annual ROI of 9.5% (and will get it)
Perfect example of the use of a CMA
Assessed: $196.7K

In other cities, including ones within 100 miles of here, this cottage would be about $60K. But they'd be missing out on Nirvana. This will sell in two seconds flat. And next year? What if we're all surprised that anybody would pay $200K for a cottage?

***

MLS#: 465874 - $230,000
Address: 1006 Meridian St
Approx. SqFt: 1,758 Acreage: 0.13
Bedrooms: 3 Year Built: 1955
Total Baths: 2 Full: 2 Half: 0

Owner paid $112.5 in 2001 - 100% increase in price
Assessed at $238K

There is no "move-up" coming out of this; it was an investment property. It's on an odd part of the street. It's a classic asbestos shingle cottage, harking back to the days when Belmont was Blue Collar instead of faux-hipster. It's sale depends upon people who like the very close couple of neighbors--or who don't care.

****

MLS# 465972 - $264,995
Address 221 Azalea Dr
Bedrooms 6 Total Baths 3
Full Baths 3 Half Baths 0
Year Built 1959 Sq Feet(Finished) 3,484
Acreage 0.19 Sq Feet(Unfinished) 0

Owner Paid: $132 5 2/2001 - Are we sensing a trend here? There's a serious conviction that cottages have doubled in value during the bubble years. But this one has an addition.
Assessed: $338K

Listing says: "At $76 per square foot of finished space, with 6 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, and abundant informal space, this well built 3500 square foot brick and hardiplank home is priced to sell. Owner can live in one space and rent the other; or live away and rent the entire house out."

This is among the lowest prices per SF we've seen in the City. And yet, so far...no takers.

***

MLS #465919 - $370,000
210 6th Street NW Charlottesville
3 bed, 1.5 bath

Owner Paid: $247,500 in 7/2004
- $123K or 33% increase

Listing states "priced $30,000 below assessment." and "An easy walk to the two cultural centers of Central VA: downtown and UVA."

This house was bought at a time when anywhere in Cville was marketed as "Great!" And the owner was no doubt assured Housing Always Goes Up. Is this a neighborhood that supports a $400K house? This is the "problem" with CMAs.

There are 60 houses priced $300-400K available in Charlottesville.

***

ALBEMARLE

MLS#: 466014 - $265,000
Type: Attached
Address: 1946 Tudor Ct
Approx. SqFt: 1,591 Acreage: 0.00
Bedrooms: 3 Year Built: 2006
Total Baths: 3 Full: 2 Half: 1
Office:

Owner paid: $285 in 4/07 - Asking Price is $20K less
Assessed: $264K

***
Earlysville
MLS# 465918 - $239,500
Address 4229 Earlysville Rd
Bedrooms 3 Total Baths 2
Full Baths 2
Year Built 1912 Sq Feet(Finished) 1,716
Acreage 0.53 Sq Feet(Unfinished)

Owner Paid $86K in 1996
Assessed at $146.2K - $90K less than asking

Listing: "Charming farm house with lots of windows and light. Home business potential (zoned Village Residential...Sale due to Seller's move out-of-state. Agent married to Seller."

Interesting that agent is not owner/seller...just married to him. Ahh, semantics. And codes.

***

MLS#: 466011 - $595,000
Address: 2501 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy
Approx. SqFt: 3,546 Acreage: 7.00
Bedrooms: 4 Year Built: 1972
Total Baths: 3 Full: 3 Half: 0

New construction
Assessed at $422K

Assessment: maybe it doesn’t take into account the addition mentioned in the listing. That's the problem with "drive-bye" assessments, isn't it?

91 Albemarle houses are priced $400-500K

***

Forest Lakes
MLS# 465868 - $615,000
Address 3268 Turnberry Circle

Owners paid $625K in 2007 - $10K more than current asking
Assessed: $548K - $65K below current asking

Listing: "Superb, pristine home in desirable Springridge!"

Sellers just trying to relocate--again. Without losing $.

There are 42 $600-700 houses available in Albemarle County.

***

Dunlora

MLS#: 465870 - $419,000
Address: 1298 Dunlora Dr
Approx. SqFt: 2,670 Acreage: 0.25
Bedrooms: 4 Year Built: 1997
Total Baths: 4 Full: 2 Half: 2

Owner paid $369K in 2004.
Assessed at $404K from a high of $455K in '07.

Listing says: This attractive colonial is the LOWEST PRICE IN DUNLORA.

Clearly, they want to sell. See above.

There are 50 properties priced between $400-450K in Albemarle County.

***

Keswick
$1,425,000 MLS# 465818
Address 1719 Downing Ct , #q2 6
Bedrooms 6 Total Baths 5
Full Baths 4 Half Baths 1
Year Built 2007 Sq Feet(Finished) 7,007
Acreage 1.13 Sq Feet(Unfinished) 1,255
Design Cape Cod, Contemp

Assessed: $400K less than asking. Additional land may not be addressed in assessment.

"The Simple Elegance of Southern Living", says it all in this Cecil Cobb custom residence on over 1 acre in Glenmore.

Yeah, that's what you want in the Blue Ridge: a large scale Cape Cod. If the listing doesn't make you laugh, it might be worth a look....

Related Reading:
It's All About the Inventory - CAAR Blog
10 Reasons There Aren't More Move-up Buyers

April 09 Detached Home Sales
Cville MSA Contracts Jan - May 09

Friday, May 15, 2009

10 Reasons There Aren't More "Move-Up" Buyers in the Charlottesville Albemarle Area

Just one month ago, the number was 3608, according to Realtor Greg Slater, when he appeared on April 16's Charlottesville--Right Now! hosted by Coy Barefoot on WINA. Slater, along with CAAR prez Michael Guthrie, discussed the 2009 First Quarter Market Report. They stated that the highest they'd seen the inventory number was 3673, back in the First Quarter of 2008.

The 3700+ number reflects everything available in the Cville MSA plus the Valley and surrounding Counties, including proposed projects in addition to new and existing homes. The 3700 does not include houses that are for sale without the use of a Realtor.

What's the problem here?

Obviously, pricing.

And obviously, there's a lack of buyers.
Specifically, the "Move-Up Buyer."

The "First Time Home Buyer" is driving the market right now. In Charlottesville between January 1 and May 3, 77% of all contracts were under $300K. In Albemarle, the percentage was 62%.

Where are the "Move-Up Buyers?" The short answer is that many would-be "move up" buyers are now stuck in their homes because they won't make enough by selling to achieve the next "level." This is not only because house values are falling, but also because pricing in this area is out of synch with wages, no matter what the wage is. A 4 bedroom home for $750K? Sure, in the days of no money down, interest-only loans. Not now. Moving up is harder than ever nowadays, when a "starter" home is about $250K, and today's buyer can expect to build no equity for several years. According to the Virginia Housing Development Authority (and many economists, among them Robert Shiller, Nouriel Roubini, Paul Krugman, et al) prices will be declining for some time to come (see links at bottom). As always, a buyer should be purchasing due to a need for housing, not in the anticipation of making a profit.

Between Gen Y being priced out of this market, and the Baby Boomers either approaching retirement or freaking about recent loss of personal wealth, there are fewer buyers than ever.

BUT what about the sellers whose properti
es are on the market now? Where are they going? Not many of them are turning around and buying. As CalculatedRisk says, it's "One and done." When you look at the transfer history of the properties for sale, you start seeing the same stories:
  • seller is leaving town for a new job
  • seller is leaving town after a UVA program or residency ended
  • property is for sale by a trustee due to owner death
  • seller is retiring or ill and downsizing
  • seller has been in the property about 5 years--there's an Option ARM resetting
  • seller wants to unload an investment property
  • the property is REO or short sale
  • the seller is trying to downsize due to financial hardship before a foreclosure or shortsale
Maybe May's contracts, which will close in July or August, will bring more "move-ups." Right now, it's looking stagnant.

Supply far exceeds demand in this area, but there are sellers who have made significant cuts to Askings. However, many sellers remain firmly optimistic (not just in this area!) about their homes' value: according to Zillow, 74% believe their homes will not decline in value in the next six monts.

And nearly 1/3 of homeowners are considering putting their homes on the market once the market "turns." Talk about a Shadow Inventory!

It's the same old story in this area: too much inventory, prices far beyond wages, homes that achieved a bubble "value" and now have owners who can't or won't sell for less, no new jobs coming this way (except those spoken for at DIA/NGIC), a luxury component that is frozen, and not enough buyers.

With the lowest sales in a decade, the market is due for a correction in pricing. Big City Prices will in many cases bring a big city correction.

Related Reading below the graphic. The graphic shows what used to happen in the housing market.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Happy Days Are Here Again: Buy a Home With No Money Down

UPDATE
May 15: Monetizing the $8K FTHB Tax Credit is now being "reconsidered." The FHA Blog of The Mortgage Lender Implode-O-Meter has the details about why HUD and the FHA can't agree on whether this practice violates FHA guidelines.

Got no cash? Who cares. If you qualify for an FHA loan and you have an income (as a couple) of no more than $150K, the $8K Federal income tax credit for First Time Homebuyers can now serve as your downpayment.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the plan to "monetize" the tax credit, by converting it to a "bridge loan," at the National Association of Realtors summit, entitled "Advancing the US Economy." And according to Housing Wire, the program will begin as early as next week. FHA's market share was just 1.9% in the fourth quarter of 2006 and reached 23.7% by the fourth quarter of 2008.

According to the Wall Street Journal's math, using the $8K tax credit means a buyer needs little to nothing down for a home that costs up to $230K. FHA loans require only a 3.5% downpayment.

During the first four months of 2009, 77% of all contracts in Charlottesville were written for properties priced below $300K; in Albemarle, it was 62%.

So the "magic number" is $230K. Wonder if some of those unsold upper 200's, lower 300's are going to suddenly find a way to get closer to the magic number? The basic problems remain with this market: there's too much inventory and not enough buyers, plus asking prices are far out of line with incomes...and as the Spring selling season continues, more inventory is added. Something's gotta give. Or not. The Cville MSA is its own little universe, and there are many sellers who can't, or won't, come to terms with the idea that it's not 2006.

But back to tax credits. Why stop with the first time homebuyer? NAR wants the $8K tax credit expanded to all homebuyers at all income levels.

In related news, NAR released price info yesterday: there was a YOY 2008-9 Q1 decline in price of 14% nationwide for a single family (detached) home. The national median price is now $169K. In Cville, the Q1 median was $247K; in Albemarle, $373.5K. Nationwide, nearly 50% of all Q1 sales were foreclosures, bought by First Time Homebuyers. Locally, sales of detached homes are down significantly (again, due to lack of buyers and bubble pricing) but when there are foreclosures and short sales available, in addition to "starter homes," they're moving quickly.

Related Reading:
Prepared Remarks - HUD Sec'ty Shaun Donovan
FHA Plans to Offer $8K Upfront to Buyers - WSJ
Cville/Albemarle Contracts Jan. 1 - May 3 2009
First Quarter 2009 Market Report

Rep. Tom Perriello Holds Foreclosure Roundtable at Bodo's

Representative Tom Perriello (D-Ivy) held a "roundtable" for constituents of the 5th District at Bodo's Bagels on Preston Avenue, reports Brian McNeill of The DP.

Perriello appeared along with U.S. Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, concerning the rising rate of home foreclosures as well as problems in mortgage lending and modifications.

From the article:

Since the financial crisis began in earnest last fall, the number of foreclosures in Perriello’s district has climbed sharply. On Oct. 1, the 5th District saw a total of 24 homes in foreclosure go to auction. On May 1, 237 homes went to auction.

At the same time, the district’s inventory of foreclosed homes rose from 55 on Oct. 1 to 369 on May 1 — an increase of 571 percent.

Charlottesville bankruptcy lawyer Bob Stevens said that he is seeing homeowners with mortgage loans that have interest rates of 8 percent to 14 percent.

“Unfortunately, we’re probably going to see a whole lot of people just walking away from their homes that they can’t afford anymore,” he said.


In this economy, many people are just one serious illness, one divorce, one death, or a couple of months of unemployment away from default, foreclosure, or bankruptcy.

The 5th Congressional District stretches from Charlottesville all the way down to the Danville/Martinsville area, where unemployment rates are much higher than locally, which results in more foreclosures. The issue with rising foreclosures in the Cville/Albemarle area is rising unemployment (doubled from a year ago) but also Option ARMs due to reset, as well as Jumbo loans that can't be modified because they're beyond the price cap for the Obama "Making Home Affordable" program.

Read all of The DP story, including what some local homeowners and regional housing advocates have to say, here.

Related Reading:
US Foreclosure Filings At Record High Q1 2009
Bank Forecloses, Resells For 50% Less Than Original Price
Location, Location, Location. Foreclosure.
4886 Dick Woods Road
332 Minor Ridge Road - Bank Lists at 37% Discount

1404 Westwood: Listed By Bank at $315K, Sold for $239K
A Tale of Two Foreclosures And Other Properties Nearby

Friday, May 8, 2009

Charlottesville Albemarle Real Estate Update: All Contracts 1 Jan. - 3 May 2009

Realtor Greg Slater of Real Estate III sent the information that appears below. Regular readers will recognize Greg as a consistent and cheerful commenter.

The spreadsheets show data for all contracts (pending, contingent, and closed) by type from 1 January through the evening of May 3. This means, of course, that some of these sales could fall through; let's hope not. Greg notes that Ryan Homes (a new home builder) has not yet entered April sales data into the MLS system; he'll add this in the comments section when it's available.

After the Q1 Report, Greg commented on the pricing/sales trend of properties below $300K selling at higher percentages than others. This is continuing to hold true in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Fluvanna County, and Greene County.

CHARLOTTESVILLE

There are currently 369 properties available.

In Charlottesville 1 Jan. - 3 May in 2008, 63% of all contracts were under $300K. In 2009, 77% of all contracts are under $300K.

Townhouses are down in contracts -27% in 2009 YoY 2008.

UPDATE, as per comments: the percentage decline for condos and detached (single family) homes is transposed in the spreadsheet. Detached is down -27%, and condo sales are down -56%.

Take a look at the decline in sales in the $300K-$600K price range. What is often repeated in comments seems to be playing itself out with buyers, who are either saying "no" to higher prices or "waiting." (That is, except for a couple of buyers at the $600-$700k level, who made 2009 a 100% increase over 2008). Sellers in the $300-$600k have reason to be worried...except there are a couple more months of "prime season" selling. (And all it takes is one buyer to get a home sold.)


ALBEMARLE COUNTY

In Albemarle there are currently 1140 properties available.

Albemarle County is both more expensive and has many more properties for sale than Charlottesville, typically even in a more "normal" period. The good news is that the YOY change in sales from 1 Jan. to 3 May 2008 to 2009 is just -5%. The price points of what's going under contract are lower, however. Browse the MLS and it will seem like thousands of prime acres and a limitless supply of estates and farmettes are for sale; but this part of the market is essentially frozen.

In 2008, 47% of sales were under $300K. In 2009, 62% of sales are under $300K. In the "under $300K" category, there's been an increase in sales of 26%.

When you look at "property type," you find the answer: condos and townhouses are selling well, also significantly up from 2008 at +17% and +40%. Greg notes that the Pavilions at Pantops are driving these sales.

But, ouch, single family homes are down 21%, as is the Western Albemarle area--Crozet.



THE COUNTIES

In Fluvanna and Greene there are currently 579 properties available.

Fluvanna County
is suffering from low sales in the over $300K category: down -75% from 2008. This seems like it would be acreage and horse properties that aren't moving as well as in the past. Contracts on properties under $300K have increased by 15% in 2009 over 2008.

Greene County has managed to keep the same numbers on the contract percentages, even gaining in sales by 7% in 2009 over 2008.


There are several reasons the "under $300K" properties are selling:

1. The $8K first time homebuyer tax credit has an income limit of $75K single/$150K couple, and properties under $300K are the most easily affordable for these income levels;

2) In Charlottesville and Albemarle there tends to be an annual turnover of medical residents, B and law school students, plus visiting faculty, who may buy property at lower price points;

3) There's a large supply of condos/townhouses available;

4) There's something of a "pent-up demand" for well-priced ($200k-$250K) single-family homes, as both Michael Guthrie and Pavel Dovgalyuk have noted, and when sellers are able to price "realistically," these are going fast. "Realistically" means recognizing that while interest rates are low, today's buyer probably doesn't have a large downpayment and is very likely to be conservative about how much mortgage debt will be taken on due to the potential that the home's value may stay flat over the next several years. Pricing in this area, as in many areas of the country, got out of whack with price-to-income ratio (currently 5.5 to 1 v. historical 2.5 to 1). The median income for a family of 4 is $48K/$58K in the City/County; houses priced for this customer have been shown to sell.

5. Jumbo Loans not only have higher interest rates than conventional 30 yr fixed mortgages, they also require a concomitant higher downpayment. Because these cannot be backed by Fannie or Freddie, they stay on a bank's books; the bank opens itself to greater risk with a Jumbo. Thus, harder to come by.

Many thanks to Greg for sending the data. Got questions? He'll be checking comments.

Greg Slater is the Director of Sales and Marketing at REIII. He's the 2009 President-Elect of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors, and will be President in 2010.

Related Reading:
Q1 Market Report

Thursday, May 7, 2009

1 in 5 Mortgages Underwater = Impossible to ReFi, Difficult to Sell, Potential Foreclosure

More mortgageholders sank underwater in their debt during the First Quarter of 2009.

The folks at Zillow say 21% of mortgageholders, or 1 in 5, are "underwater" nationwide. Other economists/research firms have different numbers than Zillow. Stan Humphries, Zillow's VP of Data and Analytics, explains:

The analysis is based on the mortgage balance at the time of purchase and the price changes that have occurred since. It does not take into account that some homeowners may have paid down principal along the way.

Humphries also believes that this is a "conservative approach" to coming up with the figures, as many homeowners took out HELOCs or cash-out refi's, rather than paying down mortgages. If anything, he says, the number may be too low.

The negative equity problem is growing so acute that the Obama Administration is rethinking the "Making Home Affordable" program, which refi's mortgages or cuts principal, but has a cap of 105%.

And for mortgageholders who are not underwater, there's limited amounts of equity in American households.
"Building equity" has always been a reason to "invest" in a house. During the Bubble many buyers believed "housing prices always go up." The housing crash has wiped out this idea.

So how much equity do homeowners actually have? Some analysts are challenging the Fed's numbers. Barron's Alan Abelson
gives analyst Stephanie Pomboy's interpretation of the data:

"...an overwhelming portion of some $8 trillion in mortgage debt (or 80% of the total) is teetering on the edge of, or in some state of, negative equity."

Abelson goes on, As to the Fed's claim that the equity of homeowners as a group stands at 43%, [Pomboy] points out that what the Fed neglects to tell you is that roughly a third of them have their houses free and clear. Lo and behold, some basic arithmetic reveals that 67% of homeowners with mortgages have equity of less than 15%.

The WSJ sums up the issue for the broader RE market:

The increase in the number of such "underwater" borrowers comes amid signs that falling prices are making homes more affordable for first-time buyers and others who have been shut out of the housing market. But falling prices also make it more difficult for homeowners who get into financial trouble to refinance or sell their homes, and for others to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Nowadays, as was true for all but the recent past, the best reason to buy a house is because you need a place to live. The trick for the buyer is to combine the need with available knowledge (pricing, economic forecasts, local data, employment prospects, etc.) so the new owner can avoid a similar situation as that faced by 1 in 5 American mortgageholders.

As a final thought, can somebody whose mortgage is underwater really be called a "homeowner?"

To read Zillow's press release, go here. To see a map of MSAs, plus info in Excel and graph formats (including Richmond, but not Charlottesville) go here.

Related Reading
Shotgun Wedding - Alan Abelson, Barron's (pg. 2)
House Price Drops Leave More Underwater - WSJ
Jumbo Loans Defaulting - Bloomberg
Back to Issuing Warnings - Dave Johnson
The Wealth of the Baby Boom Cohorts After Collapse of the Housing Bubble - Rosnick & Baker

Crozet Property Featured in New York Times

The NYT has a weekly column called "What You Get For..." The ellipses are filled in with a dollar amount, and the column looks at three properties in different parts of the country. This week, the amount is $450K.

1122 Crozet Avenue, Crozet VA 22932
$445K - "all reasonable offers will be entertained"
Assessor: $350K
Owners Paid: $144.5K in 1998
Check it out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gravity Lounge Assets Set For Auction

Details.

Albemarle Single Family Home Sales - Preliminary

Below are preliminary numbers for Albemarle County. Some numbers can be found on the 'net; others were emailed. The reliable data usually comes from Realtor Jim Duncan at RealCentralVA...OR somebody setting the old Bubbleheads straight in the Comments.

Commenter Cville Realtor recently wondered why we hadn't mentioned NAR's May 1 press release about February's pending existing home sales rising. Pending home sales indicate what closed sales will be about 45-60 days later, in April or May. Nationwide, pendings rose about 2%; in the South, the numbers rose 4.4%.

As you see below, Albemarle's February Pending and Contingent contracts don't seem to equal closed sales for April. Perhaps more will close in May or June.

Single family home sales from January-May 1 have declined -32% from the same time period in 2008.

April (plus March and February) Single Family Homes Sold in Albemarle County

Sold
April 32
March 37
February 28

Pending
April 17
March 23
February 23

Contingent
April 67
March 66
February 40

Pricing Perspective

The following numbers came from Realtor Greg Slater, and appear in the comments after a previous post:

In Albemarle all categories (single family, attached, condo) and pending, contingent, sold:

1st QTR 2008
261 Contracts
(33% under $300k)

1st QTR 2009
249 Contracts
(74% under $300k)

A similar phenomenon has been noticed for the Cville single-family home market: but at an even lower price point. "Starter homes" between $200K-$250K (usually closer to the lower figure) were going under contract very quickly in March/April.

Related Reading
Numbers, Cville Realtor Sally Dent's Blog
Numbers, Cville Realtor Blog Charles MacDonald

Even More Mortgage Holders Under Water
- WSJ
Bankers Worry Worst is Yet To Come - WSJ article on loan officers surveying the credit landscape

Recapping the DP on Q1 Market Report
Cville/Albemarle Single Family Home Sales Significantly Down Q1 2009
Median Home Prices in Cville, Alb, Compared to Other Markets
Va Housing Development Authority on Cville Area Economic Outlook
Gen Y Priced Out of Cville MSA

This Is Nightmarish

Eek.

Isn't This Special

Not.

Alleged Ponzi Schemer John M. Donnelly Set to Plead Guilty To...Something

From The DP:

"Court records show that Donnelly is accused of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 to 30 years. To what exact charge Donnelly will plead guilty, however, is not known. He has not been formally indicted...."

Is it possible Donnelly is pleading guilty to something in exchange for getting the wife, currently a "relief defendant," off the proverbial hook, and protecting the marital assets?

Wouldn't this be the "right" thing to do? The plea will be entered Monday, May 11.