More transportation dollars for NoVA to come with higher “Grantor’s Tax” on home sales

March 26, 2013 — Under legislation Gov. Bob McDonnell is set to sign into law, the Grantor’s Tax property sellers must pay will go up July 1, 2013 from 10 cents per $100 to 35 cents per $100.

The upshot: If you’re selling your home this spring as two of my clients  are, try to close before Tuesday, June 30 in order to pay at the the existing rate of 10 cents per $100. Keep in mind there could be a rush to close on that Monday and Tuesday so best to aim for that week beforehand.

This 250% increase — ouch! — does come with the projected benefit of more state transportation revenues funding road improvement projects in Northern Virginia, including Metrorail’s Silver Line extension to Dulles airport and Loudoun County.

For the sale of a $500,00o home, the Grantor’s Tax in a settlement in June is $500. After June, it will be $1,750.

VA general assembly logoThe Northern Virginia Association of Realtors (NVAR) “applauds” the efforts of Gov. McDonnell and the General Assembly for what would be the “first meaningful infusion of transportation revenues in nearly 27 years.”

The soon-to-be-law, aka House Bill 2313, reportedly provides close to $900 million a year in statewide funding and more than $300 million annually for Northern Virginia. We certainly could use it!

“In a perfect world,” said NVAR in a statement here, “we would prefer not to tax real estate transactions at a time when the market is on the verge of recovery. However, NVAR has honored its commitment to be part of a transportation funding solution so long as other industries are also part of the solution.”

Jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads will have the ability to collect additional funds dedicated soley to road and transit projects. Of course, that would mean higher local taxes, albeit with the peace-of-mind that those monies would stay ‘home.’

Working closely with NVAR were Delegates Dave Albo, (R-Springfield) and Jackson Miller (R-Prince William), and Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston). This trio succeeded in reducing the initially proposed Grantor’s Tax increase of 40 cents per $100 to the 25 cents per $100 in the bill.

Among the alternatives to the Grantors’ Tax increase was a local income tax increase of 1%. In the end, the Gov. McDonnell’s highly-touted transportation funding bill raised revenue from several sources including an increase in the sales and use tax, car titling fees and hotel occupancy taxes. All of those taxes are still said to be lower than those in D.C. and Maryland.

Washington Post’s updated property search app is helpful . . . with this caveat

January 31, 2013 — More data is becoming available to the public and folks savvy enough to use Internet apps to capture information on home sales have an updated local tool to use.

Here comes the The Washington Post with an updated version of its home search app for use on desktop computers and certain mobile devices.

As Real Estate Writer Kathy Orton described it earlier this week,  The Post used to rely only on data supplied by the counties. Now, through the MRIS service, it receives home-sale data within days, instead of months.

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This is how the home search tool appeared on January 31, 2013. CREDIT: The Washington Post

A quick caveat: the home sale price logged with the county does not take into accout what the Net Sale Price was. The Net Sale Price includes any adjustments at closing, including “givebacks” by the sellter to help consumate the deal. More often than not, the Net Sale Price is lower than the stated sale price.

The Post intends for you to be able to easily search by city, neighborhood or map point. “You can search single-family homes, condos or townhouses. You can search by the selling agent’s name. You won’t be able to find out the names of the buyers or sellers on the most recently sold properties,” Orton wrrote. MRIS doesn’t provide The Post with that data. You still have to wait for the county to give them that information or find it on your own on a county web site.

The Post says this tool can tell buyers “exactly what price a home sold for, which is much more relevant than what it was listed for.” As a reader of my blog you know now that’s only part of the picture, per my caveat outlined above.

The Post also says a buyer can search for the sales price of all the one-bedroom, one-bath condos on a particular street in order to know whether the condo they are thinking about buying is over- or under-priced.  But after a few searches using my laptop I found townhomes coming up after I specified only single family homes. I could not find the search function via my iPhone. (If you do, please let me know.)

Every new app is bound to have a few glitches. Let’s hope The Post fixes them quickly, especially as the Spring sales season approaches.

Bottom line: take all this with a rock of salt. More information is good, provided you know exactly what it means, and leaves out.

I do think it’s helpful for homeowners thinking about selling to be able to see what homes in their neighborhood sold for recently. They can use it to help validate their listing price provided you know any differences between the two properties, e.g. is one far more up-to-date than the other.

The Post says this app is to be made “Facebook friendly.” Orton writes it will update and expand this feature based on reader feedback. I’ve posted my feedback at the end of the article, you should too.

You deserve a market information provided by an experienced professional. Call me at 703-593-9432 or start with the MLS search function and / or Free Market Report service on my home page.

Loudoun residents: keep an eye on location for proposed Hounds baseball stadium

December 5, 2012 — Are you as surprised as I about plans by developers to re-locate a planned minor league baseball stadium to the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun County Parkway?

It would be a defining feature of the “One Loudoun” town center development that once envisioned something similar to the Reston Town Center. To some some of my clients, it just about destroys the very concept of a town center. Others say ‘bring it on!’

What do you think?

This is where One Loudoun developers want to locate a minor league baseball park at the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun CountyParkway. CREDIT: One Loudoun

This is where One Loudoun developers want to locate a minor league baseball park at the southwest corner of Leesburg Pike and the Loudoun County Parkway. CREDIT: One Loudoun

Residents of the nearby Potomac Green neighborhood have organized “No Stadium on 7”  to take on the project which may include a soccer stadium. At the same time, several area residents are looking forward to that location hosting a minor league team, the Hounds.

According to this report Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012 in The Washington Post the stadium would replace an office building and move from its originally-planned location as the centerpiece of the Kincora Village Center on Route 28. that is where the Loudoun Board of Supervisors first approved the stadium in 2009.

The would-be owner and operator of the stadium, VIP Sports and Entertainment, says its committed to being a good community neighbor. We’ll see.

At the center of the emerging debate is Supervisor Shawn Williams, R-Broad Run. Based on the report in the Post, Williams seems poised to support it. If all questions about noise, traffic and lighting can’t be worked out, he said he’ll withdraw that support.

Look for traffic and environmental studies by Friday, Dec. 14. If officials approve, construction could begin very quickly.

Here’s a sample of how each side sees the problem, or the opportunity:

One commenter about the Post’s story, ‘Mammaof4,’ said this:

Won’t the stadium raise property values? Isnt’ the intersection already busy? It’s not like this is going in the middle of a quiet little neighborhood or a thriving forest. I don’t get the opposition. Celebrate it – Loudoun the land of single family house upon single family house is getting some real mixed-use to go with its metro. This is awesome for the community. Time to rally around this and be thankful. If you want quiet, you move out to western LoCo away from mass transit and major roads.

And then there was the opposite point-of-view from ‘Revo1’:

A stadium is a terrible idea. Where are all these people going to park? Oh, that’s right. In the places where people going to the Alamo Draft House and other more welcome businesses in One Loudoun would be expecting to park. The last thing Loudoun needs is professional sports. It is a joke of the worst sort to say with a straight face that a stadium that can hold 10,000 people (or even 5,500 seated) will cause less traffice than a 4-story office building.  STOP THE STADIUM NOW!!!