The Roanoke College Poll: Virginia Real Estate Index

Sellers are optimistic but the market still faces big challenges

Feb 20, 2014, 11:07 ET from The Roanoke College Poll

SALEM, Va., Feb. 20, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Overall sentiments about the condition of the real estate market in Virginia have improved since November, according to the Roanoke College Poll. More than 30 percent of respondents say they are optimistic about the market today and in the coming year. Over 62 percent of Virginians believe that the condition of the real estate market has improved since last year, a 5-point improvement since November 2013. Also 52 percent believe that conditions will improve over the next year, a 3-point increase since November.

Sale prices and other real estate market outcomes depend upon a variety of factors influencing buyers and sellers. Several positive items are likely playing a role. The Virginia labor market is considerably stronger than the nation as a whole; the December 2013 seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the Commonwealth fell 0.2 points since November to 5.2 percent, which is well below the national rate of 6.7 percent. Overall prices for goods and services have remained low since the recent economic recession. Housing inventories are low in many areas of the Commonwealth, including Northern and Central Virginia; low inventories are a boon to sellers.

Still, the Commonwealth's real estate market is facing push backs. Mortgage rates are rising year-over-year in the Commonwealth. On February 19, reported an interest rate average of 4.20 percent in the Commonwealth for a 30 year fixed rate mortgage with at least 20 percent down and a credit score of 740. Credit markets remain tight, deterring borrowing and buyers. The implementation of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 is driving up the cost of flood insurance. Without a legislative delay, rates will continue to rise to actuarial rates over the coming years. Higher rates increase the cost of buying and owning a home. In 2014, property owners previously not required to buy flood insurance may find their properties inside newly redrawn flood zones.

Interviewing for The Roanoke College Poll was conducted by The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research at Roanoke College in Salem, Va., February 3-5, 2014. The sample consisted of 601 residents of Virginia.

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SOURCE The Roanoke College Poll