The Richmond housing market takes off! Read all about it in our Real Estate Guide 2016.
Giddy Realtors cite homes selling in less than 24 hours for full price.
Carol Barkstrom, owner and principal broker for Personal Connections Realty, said she had two such sales, with properties going based on seeing the listing information alone, without a physical look at the property.
How is this happening?
It’s feverish talk, yes, but not delusional: The numbers back them up. Since the depth of the recession, values have rebounded, sales have soared, prices have risen, and there haven’t been enough houses put on the market to keep up with demand.
The housing marked slowed a bit nationally early in the first quarter this year over economic uncertainties, according to a Central Virginia Regional Multiple Listing report, but the surge continued here unabated.
Want to get an idea of what’s what? Want to see how far we’ve come?
We have a snapshot of where things stand—our charts that take a look at 121 neighborhoods in the metro area over the years. They will allow you to see sales data for last year, and compare those prices to 2014’s data, and information from 2011, and from 2007, before the Great Recession.
We also take a look at 10 trends happening in Richmond’s housing, new home closings and offer some insights from the pros on the state of living in Richmond.
The Hot List
Life is good in Richmond, the fourth-hottest housing market in the country after Denver, Seattle and Dallas-Fort Worth, according to the online real-estate database Zillow.
“We are seeing growth in both rental, multi-family units as well as newly constructed single-family units,” says Dawn Bradley, president of Richmond Association of Realtors. “One of the great things about the Richmond region is that we have a variety of housing types that support a variety of lifestyle choices — you can live downtown and own or rent; you can live in close-in residential neighborhoods that are just a few minutes from the central city, or you can live in more traditional suburban neighborhoods; or you can live in a more rural setting.”
There are so many choices, it’s sometimes hard to see what’s trending. We tapped the expertise of an array of observers, from Realtors and renovators to architects and neighborhood advocates, for a glimpse of what’s hottest in a hot market. Here’s a sampling.
A Warm Glow
Palette choices for your interior are going slightly warmer this year, but are still staying neutral, according to Anne White, principal designer and founder of Anne White Interiors. She’s seeing more whites, in warmer tones, a pleasant surprise since whites fell off for more than a decade. She adds that recently she’s also receiving requests for a super pale green.
Blues, including navy and cobalt, are still strong, and rose quartz (a warm, serene pink) is new and hot, says Lisa Marble of Decorating Den Interiors in Glen Allen after a visit to the High Point Market in April.
Realtor Jackie Smith with ERA Napier Realtors adds gray remains popular, as is sea foam green, which she says is easy to decorate around.
Ready, Set, Hunt
Illustration by Timothy Cook
A hot real estate market means that smart homebuyers are adjusting their strategies. You have to be “smarter, faster and more courageous to navigate the significant challenge of the added competition and smaller choice to successfully snag the house (you) want,” says Carol Barkstrom, owner of Personal
Connections Realty. Barkstrom’s tips to buyers:
• Be ready to jump when a new house hits the market and look at house hunting like job hunting. Often a house is snatched up within hours after it hits the market.
• Have paperwork in order before you start looking. Get a preapproval letter for your financing, and know their closing costs and your down payment needs.
• In a hot market, don’t make a lowball offer; your competitors won’t.
Millennials in the ‘Burbs
Erin (left) and Barry Herndon and their daughter, Zoe, at their home in Rountrey in Chesterfield County. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Once an urban, loft-loving group, the millennial generation is now growing families and moving beyond city limits. Millennials — the largest group of homebuyers in 2015 — want more space and a variety of amenities for their families at an affordable price, and they are heading to suburbia. Millennials buying in an urban or central city area decreased from 21 percent in 2014 to 17 percent in 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors’ report, released in March.
It was the schools that brought Barry and Erin Herndon to Rountrey in Chesterfield County after their daughter, Zoe, was born. “We lived in Forest Hill Park and then Westover Hills,” Barry says, “and we loved it. We’re both active people, and the city has a thriving outdoor/running community. There were tons of people our age, restaurants, the farmers market, all kinds of great stuff. I know there are good [schools] in the city, but they are far easier to find and more plentiful in the counties.” In Rountrey, their neighbors include empty nesters as well as young professionals with children, some of whom attend Zoe’s preschool. “It’s clearly welcoming to children,” Barry says.
What’s New in Old
Realtor Sean Craft at his home in Church Hill. Craft has put his background in historical restoration and architectural history to use and has restored 15 homes on his own. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Historic properties are getting a new look.
Structurally, a first-floor master bedroom suite is in demand, and basement renovation, which includes a good amount of “digging out,” is appealing to homeowners who want extra space for entertainment, an office, or an additional bedroom and bathroom, according to
Realtor Sean Craft of Homes ‘N Land Inc.
Craft studied historical restoration and architectural history at Virginia Commonwealth University. He flipped his first house in 2001, and has since transformed 15 homes on his own and another 30 with clients. Every home Craft has flipped was researched before the work began. “It’s important for me to restore the integrity of the houses,” he says.
Another trend Craft has noted in historical renovation is the use of barn hardware, which allows doors between rooms to slide open along a track without taking up extra room.
Willie Hilliard (left, in green shirt) of the Brookland Park Area Business Association is a North Side advocate. (provided photo)
Venture Real Estate Realtor Michael Morris has watched the reinvention of North Side for several years. “The ‘hottest trend’ in the local scene is the explosion of sales in the Ginter Park Terrace, Brookland Park and Battery Park area,” he says. “Houses are being scooped up by flippers, renovated, and these homes sell immediately for the most part. Many first-time home buyers are finding beautifully renovated Arts and Crafts homes with all modern amenities yet have their historic integrity intact.” Willie Hilliard of the Brookland Park Area Business Association and a North Side advocate agrees that the area is primed for a boom. He sees some work underway by renovators, and adds that those houses seem set for a churn. “They’re just buying [houses] up and waiting on the big payday,” he says.
No time for puttering in the garden? You’re not alone.
“Fewer folks are asking for large flower and shrub beds and cutting gardens,” says landscape designer Diana Crook. “Clean” and “green” are the buzzwords Crook has been hearing in her job at Shipp and Wilson, Inc. “Fewer plants means less maintenance,” she says. In lieu of lush landscaping, homeowners are opting to use color in new ways, she says. “One of the most popular is painting the front door and large container pots the same color such as bright chartreuse or lipstick pink,” she says. The focal point then shifts to the vibrant color of the painted structure.
Another trend that is gathering attention is the “respite” area. Create a small patio or choose a spot in a shaded part of the yard and decorate it with a couple of comfortable outdoor chairs, green plants, outdoor ornaments and a small fountain. “Fountains are so soothing,” Crook says, “and they are virtually maintenance-free.”
Smart and Green
Illustration by Timothy Cook
Many buyers are looking beyond space and amenities when seeking a home and are seeking properties that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
Bruce Richardson Sr., a real estate agent with Virginia Capital Realty, said he’s seeing developments with eco-friendly features including more green space, and different forms of drainage to properly filter storm runoff.
Once rarely seen outside upscale residences, you now find smart homes at all prices, with features including thermostats, door locks and security systems that can be operated remotely over the Internet, according to Catina Wright, a principal broker with Icon Realty Group. Homebuyers who once focused on the “wow” factor of a home are now also focusing on what it is made of, its energy-efficiency and its green quotient, says Wright. They’re seeking features such as fresh-air intakes and checking out what’s in the walls and what carpets are made of, too, to ensure their home environment is healthy. “Buyers are very conscientious,” she says. “We really didn’t have that in the past.”
In Flows Into Out
Illustration by Timothy Cook
It may not count in your home’s square footage, but outdoor living areas continue to be in demand by prospective homeowners, according to Heather Barber, landscape architect and owner of Toposllc. “In 2016, the homeowner wants a smooth transition from indoors to outdoors, for the aesthetic properties as well as functionality. Thus, the outdoor room ideal continues to be alive and well,” she says. Barber recommends large-scale retractable glass doors for a seamless transition from indoor living rooms to outdoor living terraces and decks. What once was in is also now out, as outdoor spaces boast amenities including a fully stocked kitchen, fireplace, lighting, flat-screen televisions, sectional seating, and solar tubes and panels to power infinity pools and resistance training pools.
There’s a slow burn going on in Manchester, making it one of metro Richmond’s hidden housing gems.
For now, most new residents to Manchester are apartment dwellers because that’s what’s being built, according to Rick Jarvis, founder of One South Realty Group. Housing stock is low in Manchester, as it is throughout the metro area, but Jarvis and broker Catina Wright say Manchester is primed for a boom. “The availability of vacant land and surface parking gives Manchester an advantage that other neighborhoods simply don’t have when it comes to adding housing and density,” Jarvis says. “Between Cowardin and Commerce, there are not only numerous vacant building lots, but entire vacant blocks that could be developed. Between Commerce and the river, there are still several warehouses that can be converted as well as entire blocks of surface parking that, again, could be developed into vertical mixed-use properties.”
Upgrades in Amenities
A treehouse playground is part of the package of upscale amenities at Hallsley in Midlothian. (Photo courtesy of Hallsley at Midlothian)
More than ever, home buyers are seeking upscale amenities, according to John S. Finn Jr., president and broker with Dominion First Realty and past president of the Richmond Association of Realtors. Granite kitchen countertops are an expected amenity, even in entry-level homes. “The amenities make the difference in the sale,” says Finn. “That has always been the case, but in a market like we’re in right now, upgraded amenities are strong selling points.”
In the yard, families are installing putting greens, basketball and soccer goals, notched timber treehouses, climbing walls, zip lines and even a sandbox “archeological dig,” says Heather Barber, landscape architect and owner of Toposllc.
Buyers also want upgrades in neighborhood amenities. That’s part of the spark in demand for homes in Hallsley, a Midlothian community that was second in the metro market for new home closings (111) in 2015. You’ll find a treehouse, a playground and a playhouse village, a dog park, a fishing pond with an overlook, a waterpark-like pool, and the Hallsley Hopper, an on-demand, chauffeured limousine van available for groups for downtown dining or day trips.